It was both a blessing and an opportunity to meet Dorothy Day. Sojourners was just in its beginnings, and the founder of the Catholic Worker was nearing the end of her life. We spent some time together on a few occasions, once to interview her for the magazine (December 1976). Dorothy, characteristically, had tough and probing questions for me, but was also very affirming and encouraging of what we were trying to do. Perhaps she felt some connection to a group of young Christians who were trying to start both a magazine and a community among the poor, just as she had done. I even remember the fond description of Sojourners by her co-workers in New York as "a Protestant Catholic Worker"!
In one of those conversations with Dorothy, I enthusiastically described our vision of Christian community. She listened pensively, but her eyes betrayed a certain skepticism. "I thought we were creating a community too," she sort of sighed, "but the Catholic Worker turned out to be more of a school." Over the years many people came to the Catholic Worker, but most of them eventually left to go on to other things. While the list of those who passed through the Catholic Worker is quite impressive, few stayed and I sensed that Dorothy missed many of them.
Well, it’s been more than two decades since that conversation with Dorothy and, now, I would have to say the same thing about Sojourners. Literally hundreds and hundreds of community members, interns, and worshipers have come and gone, most to lives and work very consistent with Sojourners’ vision. Like Dorothy, I once hoped and even expected that most people would stay; but it wasn’t to be. Now we are like a dispersed community, a Diaspora, scattered across the country and around the world.