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The RoundTable

Experiments in Community Living

Spring 2000


Major Articles

  • Kopavi Community: More than a Glimpse – Catherine Nolan
  • Sisters of Mercy: Supported, Encouraged, and Challenged – Terri Bednarz, RSM
  • Karen House and Dorothy Day Co-Housing: Our Commitment – Teka Childress
  • Sophia House: Ever-Present Gifts – Julie Jakimczyk
  • Sophia House: Justice and Faith-Based Lives – Lynn Fingerhutt
  • CoLibri: A More Socially Responsible Lifestyle – Mira Tanna
  • Claver House: We Aim to be Just and Good Neighbors – Erin Nealon

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1840 Hogan St.

Saint Louis, MO  63106

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Fritz Eichenberg
  • Why This Issue – Barb Prosser
  • Centerfold – Community Photos
  • From Abroad – Mongolia – Bill Engels
  • From Karen House – Courtney Barrett
  • From Little House – Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • Poetry – Kate Sopko “Permission to Speak Feely, Sir”
  • RoundTable Talk – Mark Chmiel

Why This Issue:

Why this issue? The topic of Community is one we have featured in former issues. We are usually grateful to better understand the dynamics of community, and so we greet each "community" issue with curiosity and enthusiasm. In the 1993 summer issue of The Round Table, Bill Miller wrote of bow notable and different it is to live in community in a society that values individualism almost to the extreme. Couple this observation with an increasing desire for persons to find ways to support and sustain blending life-style with ministry and one has something to talk about. It is in this spirit that we invited seven people representing six different communities to share with us.


Catherine Nolan offers her wisdom with a seasoned look at the Kopavi Community, an intentional community living in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood for over 26 years. To many of us, this was an inspiring model in our early years. Teka Childress writes of the fluid nature of the St. Louis Catholic Worker Community, while pointing out that hers is a rich life of enjoying long-term relationships with guests and community members. Experiencing a more traditional form of community is Terri Bednarz, a Sister of Mercy.  Ironically, the act of a young woman entering a religious community could be viewed as a revolutionary act in today's world. In CoLibiri's Kitchen, Mira Tanna speaks of the very real experiences of preparing food and enjoying meals together as a symbol of how essential and basic community living can be. Mira points out how the CoLibri Urban Housing Collective did some of its best planning over potlucks as early as 1996. We hear from Julie Jakimczyk and Lynn Fingerhut as they offer reflections on their desire for community and how they satisfy this desire.

Located in close proximity to Kopavi members and to many members of the broader Catholic Worker community, Sophia House was born three years ago with Julie and Lynn coming on board in its second year. Knowing this house well (I am neighbor and landlord together with my husband, Phil), I am struck by the sign of hope these young people are to our neighborhood and to the many folks who pass through their door. New on the scene is Claver House, located on the north side in the Ville neighborhood. Erin Nealon writes of how dramatic and yet comfortable this young community's presence feels to her. Sitting in the shadows of the closed Homer G. Philips Hospital and of the vibrant St. Matthew Parish, Claver House joins with others in witnessing to its north side neighborhood. All of these reflections promise hope and new life to us, while the community members speak about the energy and strength they receive from one another to continue the work to which they feel called.


In From Abroad, Bill Engel sends us word from a wintertime visit to Outer Mongolia with the Missionaries of Charity. Mary Ann McGivern shares a poignant poem capturing her life work, the dream of Boeing-McDonnell Douglas beating swords into plowshares. In the Karen House article, Courtney Barrett shares why she came to Karen House, or perhaps more accurately, how she could not resist Karen House. Mark Chmiel rounds out the issue with his reflection of a recent visit with Brazilian theologian, Ivane Gebara. We also include a striking poem from a recent visitor to Karen House, Kate Sopko.


My hope, dear reader, is that you savor these rich reflections and capture some of the energy and excitement they offer. I am reminded of two lines from Ann Manganero's response at the liturgy of her final vows in 1976: "...I am choosing to share fully in the life of this community in all its richness, with all its great gifts and with all its human frailties. I take on the responsibility of working out my destiny with you." Enjoy!


-Barb Prosser



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