While The Catholic Worker newspaper had originally called for the church to establish houses of hospitality, readers' confusion and Day and Maurin's generosity made Day's apartment a hub for those in need of a meal or a cup of coffee.
Before long, they were renting a larger space to care for people, and then a whole building.
While he outlined a three-point program of action — roundtable discussions for "the clarification of thought," houses of hospitality where the works of mercy could be practiced, and founding farming communes or "agronomic universities" — Maurin needed help to implement his vision.
In 1932, he sought out Day, a journalist and Catholic convert living in New York City.
Discussions for clarification of thought were also organized early on, and a farming commune eventually followed.
Maurin remained a central figure in the movement, even though Day's approach, rooted in her urban background and her experience with journalism, protests and activism for issues such as workers' rights, differed from Maurin's.Similar houses sprung up in other cities, inspired by the New York house.They were staffed by volunteers who lived in community with each other and with the homeless or impoverished guests who came to them for help.While Day understood and supported Maurin's message, she also brought her own ideas and expertise.When Maurin convinced Day to start a newspaper to spread his ideas, he imagined it would consist of nothing but his own "Easy Essays," short poetic compositions written in blank verse, meant to be read aloud, and filled with repetition and plays on words to catch people's attention and be accessible to all."He insisted that all three needed to be nourished in order to find health, and that a truly healthy culture needed to have what he called a proper regard for the soil." Maurin was born May 9, 1877, in Oultet, France, the first child of a large farming family.Educated by the Christian Brothers, Maurin joined the order for several years, leaving before he took final vows. S., working at various times as a homesteader, traveling laborer and French teacher.Peter Maurin speaks at a retreat at the Catholic Worker Maryfarm in Easton, Pennsylvania, in September 1940.(Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries) Day supported striking workers, for example, but Maurin's refrains were "strikes don't strike me" and "work not wages," said Brian Terrell, a longtime Catholic Worker who originally joined the movement and worked with Day in New York, but currently lives at Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa.He often takes a backseat to Day in stories of the movement they co-founded, and the aspect of the Catholic Worker that he's most associated with — farming communes or "agronomic universities" — was for decades considered one of the movement's biggest failures.However, in his very poverty and meekness, Maurin found his vocation: as a disciple of Christ on a mission to transform the modern world — in his own words — "from a society of go-getters to a society of go-givers." Now, 70 years after his death, Maurin's vision of a constructive program to reshape society through a synthesis of "cult, culture and cultivation" is gaining traction as it resonates with modern ecological and societal concerns.