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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Place for Families Part I

Back from a long weekend.
We spent time with my family. My parents own an old farmhouse with a barn and a good chunk of land in a small town. Every time I'm home I imagine fixing up the house, taking a plow to the back acre, throwing some hens in the old coop and living off the land.
The Catholic Worker Farm in Easton, PA was envisioned as this type of utopia. Unfortunately, many things got in the way of the dream and the parcel was eventually divided up amongst the families who resided there. It was this experience that lead Dorothy to mention that perhaps the Movement wasn't the place for families. Rather that looking out for all members in the movement, they were looking out for themselves-with good reason. Families trying to provide the basics for themselves and their children were less willing to make sacrifices for some of the characters who took refuge at Maryfarm without lifting a finger. If there's one potato left and it's between your daughter or a homeless wanderer, you give it to your daughter. A single worker could sacrifice their rations for the needy if he or she so chose.
And every family has a different view of what is best for themselves. The sacrifice one family makes for the Movement could seem extreme to another. Feuds such as this also lead to problems in the back to the land farm/commune at Marycrest Farm in NY. How reliant can you force people to be?
But does that mean there is no place in the Movement for families? Especially large, growing Catholic families with young children? Do we need to wait until retirement to make a difference or do we need to prime our youth and young adults to shoulder the responsibility until matrimony or a religious vocation beckons? Should the Movement become a kind of religious order with members swearing chastity and obedience and a full-time commitment to reside in a Hospitality monastery?
Perhaps there is a middle ground.