Lecture to Examine Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker Movement Founder, and Her Conversion

Peace activist, oral historian and author Rosalie G. Riegle will discuss Catholic Worker movement co-founder Dorothy Day and the foundation of her Catholicism at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, in St. Benedict Chapel on the fourth floor of Kindlon Hall at Benedictine University.

Riegle is visiting as part of the annual Benedictine Heritage Lecture Series, which celebrates the founding of the university and reflects its Catholic tradition and Benedictine heritage. Sponsored by the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, she will present the lecture, “Dorothy Day: A Saint for Our Times.”

The event is free and open to the public.

Stories of Day’s conversion to Catholicism have engaged many. Pope Francis mentioned her as one of four exemplary American citizens when he spoke to the U.S. Congress in 2015. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York initiated the cause for her official sanctification.

Riegle will outline Day’s life and characterize her spirituality using her own words. She will use interviews she conducted with Day’s family, friends and colleagues from the oral biography, “Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her.” She will discuss Day’s conversion and commitment to the Roman Catholic Church, her continuing call for a Christianity that practices what it preaches, and her criticism of the culture of war and consumption.

Riegle will also address the progress of the current movement for Day’s official canonization.
Riegle, a peace activist during the Vietnam War, met Day in 1968. After collecting and publishing an oral history of the Catholic Worker movement, Riegle co-founded two Catholic Worker houses of hospitality in Saginaw, Mich. In addition to Day’s oral biography, Riegle is the author of “Voices from the Catholic Worker” and “Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace.” She is the editor of “Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community” and “Historic Women of Michigan: A Sesquicentennial Celebration.”

A native of Flint, Mich., Riegle is a professor emerita of English at Saginaw Valley State University in University Center, Mich., where she taught for 33 years. She was awarded the 2013 Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi (Voice of the People) Award by the Oral History Association for “outstanding achievement in using oral history to build a more just and humane world.”

Riegle received the Ruben Daniels Community Service Award at Saginaw Valley, where she was also a recipient of the Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-Curricular Involvement in 1994 and 2003. In 1993, she was honored with the Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award.

A 1959 graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Riegle earned a Master of Arts in Humanities at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., in 1971 and a Doctor of Arts in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan in 1983.

Riegle is the mother of four children and the grandmother of seven. A widow, she now lives in Evanston, Ill., where she is active in St. Nicholas Parish. She also serves as a volunteer for Su Casa Catholic Worker and is a Benedictine Oblate affiliated with St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago.

For more information, contact Lynn Dransoff at ldransoff@ben.edu or (630) 829-6250.