Almost six years ago, Kate Hennessy visited St. Catherine University’s Archives and Special Collections to read letters between Dorothy Day, an American journalist, social activist, and Ade Bethune, an artist for the Catholic Worker Movement. On Monday, October 23, Hennessy will share the result of that work in 2011 at a free public event on campus.
Hennessy, the youngest of Dorothy Day's nine grandchildren, is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother. The book provides an intimate look at the life and work of her grandmother, and the relationship between Day and her only child, Tamar Hennessy.
“I met Kate when she visited the Ade Bethune Collection in 2011 while working on her book,” said Deborah Kloiber, head of Archives and Special Collections who planned Hennessy’s upcoming visit. “Ade had close relationships with both Dorothy Day and her daughter, Tamar — Kate's mother — and Kate wanted to see Ade's correspondence with the two of them, along with other materials.”
Hennessy’s presentation will take place at 5 p.m. (4:30 refreshments), in the library on St. Kate’s campus in St. Paul.
In addition to the public lecture, Hennessy will speak to students in Professor Colleen Carpenter's theology class this Friday (October 20) and, following that, meet faculty and staff at a 12:15 p.m. brown bag discussion in the library (room 123, a.k.a faculty study).
When asked why she invited Hennessy to campus, Kloiber said it was partially because “I always like it when people who use the Archives and Special Collections can come back and share the products of their research.”
Kloiber’s other, more practical, reason was to draw attention to the wealth of resources St. Kate’s has about Day and the Catholic Worker Movement.
Bethune (1914–2002) was a Catholic liturgical artist associated with the Catholic Worker Movement. She designed the masthead of its publication, The Catholic Worker, first used in 1935. Bethune became a disciple of Day (1897–1980), who cofounded the movement dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor with Peter Maurin. St. Kate's has been home to her life’s papers and artworks for 30 years.
“Ade's collection contains a number of materials related to Dorothy and the Catholic Worker, including almost 30 years' correspondence between Ade and Day,” Kloiber explained.
Hennessy has also worked in collaboration with the photographer Vivian Cherry on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance and her work has appeared in Best American Travel Writing. Her mother, Tamar, spent time working with Bethune.
“Tamar stayed with Ade in Newport, Rhode Island, for part of the summer in 1935,” Kloiber said. “Then in the early 1940s, she spent a year as one of Ade’s apprentices, living with Ade and the other apprentices.”
Hennessy’s visit is sponsored by the Libraries, Media Services and Archives; the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity; the Department of Theology; and the Friends of the Libraries.
Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother is available for purchase at St. Kate’s Bookstores. Hennessy will sign books after her talk.
"Ade Bethune: A Lifetime of Art and Active" (p. 8–12; St. Kate's magazine, Winter 2005)
Guide to the Catholic Worker Materials in the Ade Bethune Papers (St. Kate's Archives and Special Collections)
Granddaughter gives new perspective on Dorothy Day (The Catholic Spirit, March 3, 2017)