Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peter Maurin (1877 - 1949 )

Peter Maurin an idealistic Roman Catholic social activist worked with Dorthy Day  in the slums of New York City establishing the  Catholic Workers Movement.

 He was born into a poor farming family in  southern France, where he was one of 24 children.  Maurin served in the Sillon  movement of Marc Sanger until he became disillusioned.  He briefly tried his hand at homesteading in  Saskatchewan. That ended when his partner was killed in a hunting accident.  He than traveled through out the eastern States for a few years, eventually settling in New York City. For a ten year period Maurin left his catholic faith,  "because I was not living as a Catholic should." 

In the mid-1920s, Maurin was working as a French tutor in the New York suburbs. It was at this time Maurin experienced a religious conversion. Inspired by the life of Francis of Assisi he ceased charging for his lessons and asked only that students give as they thought appropriate. During this portion of his life, he began composing the poetry that would later be called his Easy Essays

Peter Maurin  Dorothy Day meet for the first time  in December of1932.On returning to New York from Washington, D.C., where she had covered the Hunger March  for Commonwealth and America magazines.   she walked into her apartment to find Maurin waiting her in the kitchen. He had read some of her articles and had been told by then editor of Commonwealth, George Shluter, to look her up and exchange ideas.
The first four months were spent mainly with  Maurin ,  sharing ideas, synopses of books and articles, and analyzing all facets of daily life through the lens of his intellectual system. He suggested since she had a journalistic back ground, she start a newspaper, to "bring the best of Catholic thought to the man in the street in the language of the man in the street". May 1 1933, the heart of the Great Depression saw the 1st edition of  the  Catholic Worker hit the streets.

Maurin's ideas served as the inspiration for the creation of "houses of hospitality" for the poor, the agrarian endeavors of the Catholic Worker farms, and the regular "roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought" that began taking place shortly after the publication of the first issue of CW

.Maurin believed the Catholic Worker should stress life in small agricultural communities. As he liked to say, “there is no unemployment on the land.” He lived  much of his life in Easton Pennsylvania where he worked on  Maryfarm the first Catholic Worker-owned farming commune.

During the 30's and early forties he spent much of his time taking  part in many the Catholic Worker sponsered protests, traveling and lecturing  extensively at parishes, colleges, and meetings across the country, often in coordination with the speaking tours of Dorothy Day. 

 In 1944, Maurin began to lose his memory. His condition deteriorated until he died at Maryfarm on May 15, 1949.

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