Friday, April 23, 2010

Catholic Worker - NYC

Yesterday, we visited the Catholic Worker in East Village, Manhattan. This is actually the birthplace of the Catholic Worker where Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin originally started the first one. Click on their names to get some more background info on them. They were extraordinary people whose vision has resulted in the tenacious, surviving-against-all-odds organization (or lack thereof) called the Catholic Worker today. Many have said that it truly is a miracle that such an organization has lasted so long and had such a big impact on the poor throughout the U.S., considering its anarchist tactics and completely decentralized network. We visited this place last year and had a great conversation with a woman who worked alongside Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker for years. This year, we met with Ted Walker, probably in his late twenties, who had come to the NYC Catholic Worker a few years ago after working at the Des Moines, IA Catholic Worker before that.
Both times I've visited this place I've been challenged down to my roots. Its ideology, its radical stance towards the gospel, made manifest in its service to the poor or "bias towards the bottom", as Dorothy Day called it, is both confronting and inspiring. They put out a newspaper 6 or 7 times a year, called the Catholic Worker, which has been going now since the Great Depression! The newspaper has beautiful artwork mixed in with short yet very ideologically-sound articles informing local residents of different initiatives, both local and global, that the Catholic Worker is taking in order to make justice and peace more tangible qualities in society. On a local level, the NYC Catholic Worker offers meals to the poor, permanent housing for forsaken elderly, jobs, clothes, etc. On a global level, they are often involved in protests against war or torture, economic injustice, environmental injustice, which often include civil disobedience, resulting in frequent arrest. Dorothy Day herself was arrested some eighty times, rumor has it.
Now, you might be tempted to write these people off as extremists, or just reactionary; that they all just have some sort of anger they need to deal with. However, a closer look at their theology and methods reveals that their approach is well-thought-out, very strongly rooted in the teachings of the gospels and the subsequent teachings of the Catholic Church. This partly explains why Catholic Workers have so succesfully multiplied throughout the U.S., despite their lack of centralization or organization. Their "bias towards the bottom" unifies them in their extremely varied manifestations of and demonstrations for peace and justice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Hello, New York City. So, it's been just a couple days since we arrived in the Big Apple. I'm flying solo this time, without my lovely wife and amazing son. It's the first time only one of us (instead of all three of us) has gone on one of our three week-long trips to different North American cities. Of course, I'm with the rest of the group, but it still feels a little lonely because they all speak French. Still, it's a change that affords a bit more freedom (went out today with just the clothes on my back; instead of Dennis on my back or in the stroller or a backpack full of snacks and diapers, etc.) and a few more quiet, pensive moments. Even so, as we're walking all over the city, taking in all the sights sounds, the father in me is struck by how many little parks this city has. Dennis is right at that age where he'd love to take advantage of all of them. I almost want to go play on them myself for him. Last night, I looked into the sky and saw a crescent moon, and instinctively pointed up and said, "Moon. Mooney." Today, we went to Coney Island and enjoyed some sun and the beach. It was another place where I kept imagining how the D-man would have reacted to all of it. I think our NYC trip next year will see all three Flanagans attending once again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Storm's a-coming!

Here we are on April 11th, in disbelief that we're so close to some of our most highly-anticipated events so far in 2010. First of all, our great friends Robbie and Chantelle are coming here in only 4 days (Wow!). We're super excited to have them stay with us and share our Montreal lives with them, and to see Chantelle run in the Canadian championships half-marathon here in Montreal next Sunday. And, although it's only a few short days they'll be here, it doesn't matter because we'll get to see them again in Hawaii! And that brings me to the next big events on the horizon: a couple of weeks in California and one week in Hawaii! We told YWAM last year when we committed to two years as missionaries that we just could not miss little-brother Jimmy's college graduation! The fact that it's in Hawaii is just a side note. We would've gone even if it were in Nebraska or some lousy place like that...So, in order to be back in Montreal for the last week of the eight-month school we're running, we decided to go to California for two weeks before Hawaii. That way we can see our family that we miss so much and some friends while we're home for a couple weeks. Before the itinerary gets too confusing, let me lay it out for you in a more organized manner:

May 1-12: Home (Orange County and Santa Maria!)*
May 12-19: Hawaii, watching the J-Man get graduated!
May 19-22: Traveling from Hawaii back to California back to Montreal
May 22-31: Back in Montreal wrapping up our school!
June 5th or so to August 5th or so: @ Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska!*
August/September: Back in Montreal preparing for next year's school and welcoming all visitors from near and far! Montreal is the greatest city in North America during the summer and we've got an extra room for guests...

There's the rough itinerary. That's why I titled this blog "Storm's a-coming".

Asterisk #1: Even before our adventurous May begins, I'll be traveling to New York City with the school for a week in the big apple. Lauren and Dennis have opted to stay home in Montreal in order to minimize travel before our California/Hawaii/Nebraska adventure. Good decision, I think.
Asterisk #2: Lauren will be flying back to Montreal for a week in July to complete her intensive doula training school, and then she'll rejoin us in Omaha.