Farmer, Anarchist, Catholic

An Interview with Tom Cornell

Tom Cornell has been a part of the Catholic Worker movement for more than sixty years. He started in 1953 when he was nineteen years old. By then, the movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, had been around for twenty years. Day was still leading the movement, and Cornell often worked with her, especially as a writer and editor for the Catholic Worker newspaper, to which he still contributes. He has also been a leading peace activist, one of the first to publicly protest the Vietnam War. Tom’s wife Monica was born into a Catholic Worker family; her parents joined shortly after its founding.

Tom and Monica have lived for many years at the Peter Maurin Farm in Marlborough, New York, about seventy miles north of New York City. Tom and Monica’s dedication to the corporal works of mercy is evident as soon as you meet them. The farm functions as a house of hospitality for the formerly homeless and for men recovering from addiction or struggling with physical or mental impairments. The farm also provides rooms for a few volunteers and, occasionally, visiting guests.

The following interview took place primarily in the kitchen of the farm’s “Green House.” Most of the men live in a second house, called the “White House,” which includes a communal dining room and a chapel. There are a few other buildings on the...

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About the Author

Wayne Sheridan is a freelance journalist, poet, and communications consultant to nonprofits. He lives with his wife, Sandra Dutton, on a farm in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City.