The Iowa City Catholic Worker House community sees the Cross on the foreheads of the poor and practices the daily Works of Mercy — housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, sheltering the stranger, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoner. Our hospitality house is located on the southeast side of Iowa City. We currently have open bedrooms for transitional housing, a weekend meal program, and a variety of other programming, such as Mass, bible study, and book clubs. Our property is held in a community land trust.
“We want everyone to know that immigrants and refugees are welcome here,” co-founder and trustee Emily Sinnwell said. “We are a safe house and sanctuary where the poor come first.”
“A house of hospitality is a private, community-owned home that shares the spare bedroom, the extra coat in the closet, and the spare place at our table with those who need it most,” Sinnwell said.
“We get calls every day and we can’t meet the housing need out there,” David Goodner, co-founder of the Iowa City Catholic Worker, said to Lauren Shotwell writing for Little Village in November, 2016. “I think the biggest thing we’re learning from this experience is no matter how much we talk about the housing crisis here, it’s worse than we think it is. And a lot of the people we’ve had come through have been women and children.”
The “Catholic Worker Movement [is] a Roman Catholic lay movement … emphasizing personal reform, radical agrarianism, absolute pacifism, and the personal practice of the principles in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day (1897–1980) at the instigation of Peter Maurin (1877–1949), a self-described peasant-philosopher and Christian radical. Maurin and Day’s program provided for round-table discussions of Christian social thought, the opening of houses of hospitality for all in need, and the establishment of independent farming communes.” — Encyclopaedia Britannica
Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5 (RSV) Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him.  And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.  You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison;  truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.  It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’  But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.  You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;  and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;  and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 6 (RSV) “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;  And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;  but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;  but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Matthew 7:1-27 (RSV) “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.  Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.  Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?  So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.  A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will know them by their fruits.  Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’  Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;  and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand;  and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
Interested in volunteering, donating, or forming community? Call or write 319.499.8929/515.729.6482 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The people of the Catholic Worker Movement hold to the teachings of the Church that direct us “to bring about a new society within the shell of the old, a society in which it will be easier to be good. A society in tune with these teachings would have no place for economic exploitation or war, for racial, gender or religious discrimination, but would be marked by a cooperative social order without extremes of wealth and poverty and a nonviolent approach to legitimate defense and conflict resolution.” — Tom Cornell at CatholicWorker.org