Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's in a Name?

Fr. Scott reminded us to come up with a name for the former convent. We have been calling it the "former convent" for a while now. If we wait too long, we run the risk of having that name stick!

Please think and pray on this and send your ideas along! You can click on "comments" below and post them online. Don't forget to include your name when you comment, unless you want to be anonymous. You can also email them to me here and I will make sure your ideas are circulated among the community. We will decide the name at a meeting of the whole Catholic Worker community in the near future, and we will send out a notice inviting everyone to that meeting when the time comes.

One idea that has come up is that we recognize the Dominicans, since the convent was formerly for Dominican sisters. They generously left it fully stocked and well cared for.

Click here for a list of Dominican saints. Here is a web page for the Dominican Sisters in Columbus, which has great information about their mission and values, much of which matches very well our mission as a Catholic Worker. There may be something in there that honors both of our traditions.

My personal preference is that we pick a name that is not already in use in Columbus or in the larger Catholic Worker movement. I am partial to the name "Theresa", but there is already a retreat center with that name. There is a Martin de Porres Center in Columbus. There are dozens of communities that have taken the names of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, as well.

Dale has proposed that we honor Blessed Margaret of Castello. She is often called the "patroness of the unwanted." She was blind, crippled and abandoned by her family. She eventually became a third order Dominican and devoted her life to prayer and charity. She was often the giver--and receiver--of hospitality, which reminds me a lot of the Catholic Worker where the lines between giver and receiver become blurred. Dorothy and Peter did not run an institution that handed out goods to the poor but rather they were poor themselves and shared with others in need.

Please think and pray on this and let these ideas percolate.

Monday, December 29, 2008

As Promised . . .

Pictured here is the pastor of St. James the Less along with our inaugural group of live-in volunteers, just after signing the lease!

From left to right:
Fr. Scott, Dale, Pat and Frank

Photo taken by Tim, the business manager of the parish.

You can double-click the picture for a larger view.

An Eco Friendly House

While talking at the former convent the other night, the three of us live-in volunteers started to plan out our lifestyle. We discussed a couple of ways to be eco-friendly, starting with a few items that are quite easy to do.

One of the first things we'll do is set up stations for composting and recycling in the house. We already put out a plastic container with a lid for the compost. We will also need to find a large bin or some crates for recycling.

Compost and Community Gardening

Compost refers to any waste that can be put back into the earth to help build up the soil for local gardens. This will include vegetable peels, fruit cores, coffee grounds & filters, tea bags and eggshells. Grass clippings and leaves make for great compost, too.

Four Seasons City Farms will be a likely recipient of our compost. Our Catholic Worker community has been supporting their work for a couple of years. City Farms has community gardens in low-income areas in Columbus. These neighborhoods often have poor access to quality grocery stores. A third of their harvest also goes to support local food pantries.


Columbus has set up convenient recycling stations all across town. Many schools and fire stations are drop-off locations. Most plastics as well as paper, cardboard, cans and glass can be recycled. Items do not even have to be separated--all recyclables can be all mixed together.

Click on this site for more detailed information about the program in Columbus. Stay posted, because as technology improves, more and more different kinds of items are accepted. Paper envelopes with a clear plastic window are accepted. Even most styrofoam can be recycled!

It used to be that only certain plastics were recyclable , but now any with the recycling symbol with a number 1-7 are accepted, such as this example on the left.

Click this site for an explanation of what the numbers mean.

Responsible Products and Future Ideas

We also have the desire to stock the Catholic Worker using recycled paper products, such as toilet paper and paper towels. While the shelf price for other items may be cheaper, they contain a hidden cost in damage to our air, land, water and the ecosystems around us. As a justice-minded community, we realize it is not responsible to help the poor while impoverishing the environment. This would only end up exacerbating global poverty in the long run.

Ideas are also circulating for an energy-efficient water heating system, which we discussed on Saturday with Bill, Cheryl and Mary. We are not sure which direction to go yet, but we are looking at "tankless" water heaters (which do not waste energy keeping a tank of water hot all day) or solar powered systems. If you have any ideas along these lines, please bring them forward.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A New Era in a Long Tradition

The Columbus Catholic Worker officially signed a 1-year lease for the former convent at St. James the Less Catholic Church on Friday, December 19th, 2008. We gathered together in the rectory with Fr. Scott and Tim, who is the business manager of the Church and Bill, a notary from the parish. Sr. Barbara, Cheryl, Pat, Dale and I (Frank) were also there.

It was very appropriate that Sr. Barbara was present. The convent is her former home. When the sisters were planning to move out, it was her recommendation that our Catholic Worker group should pursue utilizing that space. It was her dream--as well as the wishes of the parish and Dominican sisters--that the convent would continue to be a place of prayer and outreach in the Catholic tradition. The sisters left us a fully furnished, well-stocked and well-loved place that has been lived in and prayed in for over 50 years.

Cheryl, who along with her children started our community and who has faithfully held us together for the last 3 years, also saw a dream realized on Friday.

The three of us who have committed to living there--Pat, Dale and me--got an "insider's" tour by Sr. Barbara, learning the secrets and tricks of the place. Afterwards, the three of us got some food from the pizza shop next door and gathered at the table to eat, pray and put the pieces of this mission together, slowly.

I am sometimes daunted by the big shoes we are trying to step into. There is a large tradition that has come before us, and we will work hard to honor and continue it, in our own way. The convent naturally exudes community living and the three of us found ourselves discussing the nuts and bolts of our community life and just enjoying time in fellowship till nearly midnight.

This is a community house. Those of us who will be living there are merely the stewards of a space that we all share. Please join us in building community life there and spending time with us.

Photos from the lease signing will be posted here within a few days.