May 3, 2019

Ellsberg Speaks at Annual Dorothy Day Lecture

In honor of the namesake of Emmanuel College’s 6th Annual Dorothy Day Lecture, members of the greater Emmanuel community gathered on April 28th in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall to hear Robert Ellsberg, editor of Dorothy Day’s letters and diaries, speak about his experience working with the famed journalist and social activist.

Regarded as the foremost expert on Dorothy Day, Ellsberg shared his personal recollections as a young man working alongside her in the Catholic Worker Movement.

"To have known Dorothy Day—as her granddaughter Kate Hennessey once said—means spending the rest of your life wondering what hit you," Ellsberg said.

Notably, Ellsberg collaborated alongside Day as the managing editor of The Catholic Worker newspaper. He shared an anecdote of the day he first met the "very intimidating" activist in the summer of 1975 when he was 19 years old. Then a sophomore at Harvard University, Ellsberg took a leave of absence and left Boston, bound for St. Joseph House on the lower east side of Manhattan to join the Catholic Worker Movement.

"A number of motivations drove me [there]," Ellsberg said. "I wanted to experience something of life firsthand, not just through books. I was tired of living for myself alone; I wanted to be part of something larger."

His years spent working with the Catholic Worker Movement, and Day herself, later inspired Ellsberg a lifelong interest in the study of sainthood, spirituality and social action. As the editor of Day's letters and diaries, author of various books on Day, sainthood and more, Ellsberg is a member of the Archdiocese of New York's Historical Commission to advance the canonization of Dorothy Day.

"More than 40 years later, I'm still wondering what hit me," Ellsberg said. "Dorothy Day gave me a life and a sense of direction, and with this a mission to tell her story and bear witness to her message as best as I can."

The lecture also included remarks from Marie Mancuso Cromwell '71 and Margaret E. Martin '72, who serve as steering committee chair and speaker selection committee chair, respectively, for the Dorothy Day Lecture Series, as well as a question and answer session led by Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Dr. Lisa Stepanski.


About the Dorothy Day Lecture Series


The annual Dorothy Day Lecture Series was launched in 2013 by the Emmanuel College Class of 1971 to honor liberal arts as the foundation and inspiration for meaningful social action. The goal of the lecture series is to encourage ongoing engagement with issues of social justice among students, alumni and the general public. The Dorothy Day Lecture Series features speakers who are role models for contributing to positive social change. The series is named for Dorothy Day, a courageous 20th-century woman of faith who dedicated her life to the struggle for economic and social justice.

Ellsberg and Stepanski during question and answer session Ellsberg (left) shares a laugh with Stepanski (right) during question and answer session

Dorothy Day Lecture - April 28, 2019

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