Historic Dump by Frank Cordaro April 2019 via pacis p. 9 https://viapacis.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/2019-april-via-pacis/
In December, Ruby Montoya and I took a 28-hour long road trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Marquette University
for a historical archive material dump at the National Catholic Worker movement’s official archives, hosted in the Marquette University library. I’ve been sending material regarding the Des Moines Catholic Worker there for over 40 years!
The whole transaction of 16 boxes from our van to the third floor of the library, where the Catholic Worker archives are located, took no more than 30 minutes. Phil Runke, the official Catholic Worker archivist, was there to welcome us and the stuff. Phil and I started our work regarding the Catholic Worker movement the same time. We also both had mothers who were our biggest supporters, as for years we had both shown up at the Midwest Sugar Creek Catholic Worker retreat with our moms.
The unloading of all this “stuff” is all a part of my most recent move back to Dingman House. I’ve moved seven times from one Des Moines Catholic Worker house to the next over the years. This time, I voluntarily moved back to Dingman House and turned over the residence and library for Berrigan House to Jakob Whitson and Ryna-Ria Ignacio, new community members who both bring unique gifts to the work. They have young eyes and new spirits, which is very exciting for the community.
The move marks a change going on in me and how I see myself as a Des Moines Catholic Worker. Ten years ago, Berrigan House was where I saw myself retiring. Now that I am 68 and closer to real retirement (whatever that means), I feel a need to get rid of all the extra “stuff” tying me down in my life and confine all that I own into one room. I now am living on the second floor of Dingman House. It’s taken me several months to make the transition. Thank you to all who helped with this slow-motion move! I had to sort out a lot of old stuff.
The last of my stuff at Berrigan House was the archive files I’d been collecting since 1986! Years ago, I had already sent our archival materials from our early years, 1976-1886. With this trip to Marquette, a big load is off of my plate, as I am no longer responsible for years of archival stuff I’ve been saving. I’ve been calling it a “historic dump,” archivally speaking, but for me personally, it’s all part of the freedom I’m getting by living in one room with all my stuff, at Dingman House.
With this addition of archive materials, the running joke among Catholic Workers is that Frank and the Des Moines Catholic Worker will have more “stuff” weight-wise than anyone else in the national collection, including Dorothy Day! Among all this stuff lies some hidden gems, including the hidden early years of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s papers. I was the sole staff person in Des Moines for CCI during those years. Its state headquarters were in Waterloo, and Joe Fagan was still a priest! Years of audio and videos of speaking gigs and actions were also included in the archives. There are audio recordings of 90 percent of my weekly homilies as a priest for 19 years! There are files of organizing notes and news coverage of hundreds of actions over the years, plus files for all the projects, community concerns, and all other issues that come with being a Catholic Worker for over 40 years! Then add all the funny relics I’ve sent to Phil over the years, most of them yet to be discovered!
Truly, our community has a rich history, and evidence of that history was found in droves in this archive transfer.