Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty



On April 19, 2017, the Boisi Center hosted Kate Hennessy, a writer and the youngest granddaughter of Dorothy Day. The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Continuing Education (STM), the Theology Department, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, PULSE, the Catholic Studies Program, and the Church in the 21st Century Center.


Hennessy’s talk focused on her new book, Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty. Hennessy gave a brief background on her grandmother’s life as a leading figure in the founding of the Catholic Worker Movement. Hennessy emphasized the complexity, richness, and contradictions of Dorothy Day’s life that made it challenging to tell her story. Personal relationships also complicated Hennessy’s writing process, as she felt a responsibility to everyone she wrote about. It was difficult for her to navigate the dynamics between herself, her mother, and her grandmother.


Hennessy read several excerpts from the book to represent how her grandmother sought “salvation through beauty” and then invited the audience to ask questions and share their comments. Audience members inquired into who Dorothy Day was outside of The Catholic Worker, the realities of her family relationships, and Hennessy’s feelings of exposure or invasiveness when writing so intimately about the lives of others.  


Photos by MTS Photography