Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Peter Maurin (1877-1949) is best known for co-founding the Catholic Worker along with Dorothy Day. Born Aristode Pierre Maurin in a village in Southern France, he spent some of his teenage years as a part of the teaching order Christian Brothers. He served in the French military from 1898-99 and by 1909 had moved to Canada, a country with no draft. Maurin traveled around Canada and the United States working odd jobs, teaching French, and living a simple life. Through these experiences, he began to see poverty as a gift from God and an opportunity to devote more time to study and prayer.
In 1932, Peter Maurin met Dorothy Day and he began teaching her about her newfound Catholic faith. In 1933, Catholic Worker newspaper sprang out of this relationship. Maurin’s program to change society and bring about what he called a “green revolution” contained three parts: houses of hospitality, farming, and roundtable discussions. He believed in the importance of both manual labor and intellectual activity. St. Benedict’s writings on work, study, and prayer heavily inﬂuenced Maurin’s thinking. He wanted to create a life which contained a balance of study with one’s mind and working with one’s hands. He wanted to have “agronomic universities,” places where people could study and learn as well as learn skills and to work with their hands. He also believed strongly in the importance of the ancient Christian practice of hospitality. The Catholic Worker quickly became known for not only its newspaper, but also its houses of hospitality.
Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods. Although you may be called bums and panhandlers you are in fact the ambassadors of God. As God’s ambassadors you should be given food, clothing and shelter by those who are able to give it.
He wrote much of his ideas about Catholic life and work in his Easy Essays – short poems designed to be memorable and quotable. He used this format to help people remember his ideas for a green revolution. Peter Maurin traveled, taught, and worked until his health began to decline in 1944. He died in 1949 at the Catholic Worker’s Maryfarm in New York. The Catholic Worker continues to embody his ideas around the world.
The world would be better off, if people tried to become better.
And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off.
For when everybody tries to become better off, nobody is better off.
But when everybody tries to become better, everybody is better off.
Everybody would be rich if nobody tried to be richer.
And nobody would be poor if everybody tried to be the poorest.
And everybody would be what he ought to be if everybody tried to be what he wants the other fellow to be.