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The RoundTable


Spring 1997

Major Articles

  • Strangers in Foreign Lands – Jean Abbott
  • Our Guests Speak – Interviews by Ellen Rehg
  • Hospitality in the Early Church – Tom Nelson
  • Poetry: Jose Hernandez – Tim Dooley
  • With an Open Heart – Teka Childress


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Saint Louis, MO  63106

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Larry Nolte
  • Why This Issue – Ellen Rehg
  • Centerfold – Photos from East St. Louis – Joe Angert
  • From Central America – Ann Manganaro, SL
  • From Cass House – Mitch McGee
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Angie Davisson
  • A Catholic Worker Parody – Mark Scheu
  • RoundTable Talk – Mark Scheu

Why This Issue:


The Catholic Worker has a long and rich history, being founded in 1933 by Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day in New York. As a lay movement we have been involved in a plethora of ministries over these fifty-four years, and as we approach the ten year anniversary of our founding in St. Louis this summer, the same holds true for the St. Louis Worker. Members of our communities have been active in the Economic Conversion Project, the Nuclear Freeze, civil disobedience, a local land trust, women-church, and more. Throughout it all, however, the heart and soul of our communities has been the hospitality work: the housing, feeding, and clothing of the poor homeless God so graciously sends to live with us.


The English word "hospitality" is related to Latin word: (hospit, hospcs) meaning "the generous and cordial reception of guests. " The word' "hospital" is derived from the same root word for a "guest room"; and the Latin words for host and guest are related to the same root word. So hospitality has to do not only with "remembering to welcome strangers in your home" (Hebrews 13: 2), but with the relationship between host and guest. It is that relationship we explore in this issue of The Round Table.


Jean Abbott leads off with a scripturally-based reflection on her experiences of hospitality both here and in Central America. Jean is co-founder of a sanctuary house for Central American political refugees, people whose lives are in danger in their native country but whose tragic plight isn't recognized due to the ideological blinders adorning the eyes of the Reagan administration.


Teka Childress offers some personal musings on the nature of hospitality, drawing on her long, devoted years of service with the guests at Karen House. Teka counsels that hospitality is more than inviting people into our homes; it calls for a profound relational dynamic as well: inviting others into our lives.


While Jean and Teka broaden the spatial context of hospitality, Tom Nelson places it in a longer temporal line, examining its roots in the early church. And since hospitality has to do with relationships, we thought it important to hear from our guests as well, so we included interviews with them.


Perhaps our house articles take on added significance in this issue given the topic, but as usual, they make up the heart of the second half of the journal. And in the "Round Table Talk" Mark Scheu offers a compelling personalist argument for the full racial integration of our neighborhoods and the ending of school busing.


The Catholic Worker believes it is the spiritual dignity of each individual which is at the heart of the call to hospitality. That dignity has its origin in God, in our being created in the image and likeness of God. The Gospel of Luke closes with the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; in the face of Christ's crucifixion they were mired in meaninglessness and despair. But it was in the form of a stranger who they invited into their lives, and shared a meal with, that hope and meaning were reborn within them. Christ's final earthly message was for us to look for him in the initial hiddenness of the stranger. As Peter Maurin so often said: "Shelter the homeless for Christ's sake."


- Pat Coy



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