June 2014 Newsletter

           “You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be  clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love….Always be thankful.” (Colossians 12ff.)

Dear Friends,

One of our teens had been at the Catholic Worker House for “at risk” teens for about 3 months. During that time she had never initiated a conversation with me (Larry). In fact, whenever she spoke, her voice was little more than a whisper. Because terrible things have happened to her, she has lost her voice – a symptom of not realizing how precious she is.

One of our goals at the Catholic Worker is to melt the “ice of fear” that paralyzes our teens. We have found that every person (no matter how damaged) has a healthy person inside screaming to come out. No one wants to live in fear. Our teens try hard to overcome fear with trust; but where there is severe damage, it is so difficult and scary. We have also found over the years that if we offer a safe and sane home and expect our teens to go to school every day and every class, then they tend to get stronger and healthier. As we love them, the ice of fear sometimes melts.

Sure enough!!! After being in our safe and sane home, this young women (our silent teen) came to me and initiated her first conversation in 3 months. She began tentatively, “Can I ask you something?” I put my book down and said, “Sure, what’s up?” She then asked, “Is it O.K. if I call you grandfather?” When I said, “Yes,” she walked across the room and kissed me on the cheek. She now does that first thing every morning.

Love works. Miracles happen. The body of Christ is alive and well in our midst. Thank God.

Peace and gratitude,

Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges,
Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, Aida Figueroa,
Jan Johanson, J. Arthur White, and Susan Crane.

P.S. Our English Language School and tutoring programs are closing for the summer, but we will need teachers and tutors in September when a new year begins. We are DESPERATE for someone to teach basic computer skills. Call Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, (650) 366-8315. We will also need backpacks & school supplies.

P.P.S. Susan Crane is working with one of our very generous supporters who is donating to the poor the use of a second 3-bedroom apartment. This new residence for women and children was furnished by our supporters, repaired by Day Laborers and painted by volunteers from Notre Dame University. If you would like to help Susan with this new Catholic Worker, call her at (650) 366-4415. Susan will continue to live at our house for teens and manage the new center with help from volunteers.

P.P.P.S. CORRECTION: In our last newsletter I gave you an incorrect website for our Catholic Worker. The correct one is: rwdcw.wordpress.com  Susan developed this website and it is terrific.


  1. Food in any amount. One thing we never get is fish and our current family loves fish; 25-pound bags of pinto beans (you cannot give us too many pinto beans).
  1. Household needs: sleeping bags– we have 2-4 guests sleeping on our front porch these days, Pinesol, Kleenex, shampoo & conditioner, bikes, help with wi-fi connectivity problems (call Susan 366-4415), socks, underwear, paper towels, backpacks filled with school materials.
  1. Vehicles: bikes, cars, vans, trucks, RV’s etc. If you need a worker, call the DAY LABORER ORGANIZERS (Cesar or Ramon) at (650) 339-2794.
  1. Invitations to give talks to groups about any of the following topics: the Catholic Worker, non-violence or resistance. Call Larry or Susan 366-4415.
  1. A house or money to buy a house for a new Catholic Worker. Call Larry for a cup of coffee. (650) 366-4415.
  1. Volunteer doctors, dentists, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and handymen.
  1. Your ongoing love and support.









































Catholic Worker House                                                                     PRSRT STD

545 Cassia St.                                                                                                U.S. Postage Pd.

PO BOX 513                                                                                       Redwood City, CA

Redwood City, Ca. 94064                                                                 Permit # 272

(650) 366-4415


Address Service









Join people all over the world in the global day of nonviolent action to close Guantanamo.

We will meet in front of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA (Mathilda and Java Streets), from 12-1 pm to remember those still held at Guantanamo, to call for the end of indefinite detention, and to tell Lockheed that torture is immoral.May 23

On May 23rd of last year, President Obama again promised to close the detention facility at Guantánamo.  His pledge came in response to the mass hunger strike by men protesting their indefinite detention and to the renewed, global condemnation of the prison.  One year later, far too little has changed: few detained men have left the prison and hunger strikes and forced feeding continue.

It’s a well-known fact that  contractors supply interrogation services, and contractors have traditionally not been subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Lockheed Martin has been involved in the interrogation (torture) of prisoners at US facilities in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lockheed spokesperson Tom Jurkowsky asserts “During our period of performance at Guantanamo, our employees were under the direct authority of” the U.S. Southern Command.  “We had no authority to, nor did we, direct the actions of any military member, active or reserve.” However, prisoners who have been released say otherwise. 

Since Obama’s speech, only 12 men have been released. 154 remain, nearly all of whom have never been charged with a crime.  76 were cleared for release by the US government years ago.  56 men are from Yemen, the largest national group at Guantanamo, but they remain subject to an effective moratorium on their release based on their nationality.  No one from Yemen has been freed since the May speech.

Up to 40 prisoners continue to hunger strike, and many are being subjected to forced feeding — a practice condemned by international human rights organizations, medical associations, and members of the US Congress.   New lawsuits in US courts lay bare the extreme cruelty of the forced feeding at Guantanamo.  To quell the public outcry against the prison, the US military in December 2013 stopped reporting the numbers of hunger strikers.  More recently, it has classified their protest, in Orwellian fashion, as “long term non-religious fasting.”

During his May, 2013 speech, President Obama asked the American people: “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike . . . Is this who we are?”

Sadly, as we face yet another broken promise, this is what the United States remains — a country that continues to indefinitely detain and brutalize the men at Guantanamo.

Join the Catholic Workers, the Pacific Life Community, and folks from the Dorothy Stang Center of Notre Dame de Namur University for a spirited gathering on Friday, May 23, at noon in front of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale.

For further reading, check out these articles:


Meet the New Interrogators: Lockheed Martin Chatterjee Pratap

Witness Against Torture: May 23 Global Action

Call the Redwood City Catholic Worker at 650-366-4415 for more information about the action at Lockheed Martin on May 23.


Mother’s Day Proclamation

Mothers’ Day, as it is generally celebrated, is a time to buy a card or a gift for your Mom, thank and celebrate her, make breakfast for her with your children, take her out for dinner, or have brunch and a family day together.  All good. Gratitude is always good.

However,  the original idea of Mothers’ Day was for mothers organize for the common good, to mourn the war dead,  to bring aid to both sides of the conflicts, and to figure out ways to organize world peace. The holiday has been hijacked.

Here’s some of the history that Brian Handwerk researched for the  National Geographic:

“It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna’s mother—held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
In the postwar years Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes. Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known as the composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace. (National Geographic, Mothers’ Day Turns 100: It’s surprisingly dark history by Brian Handwerk)

When Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, saw Mother’s Day commercialized and eviscerated of the intended meaning, she dedicated her life and her income to defending the original meaning of the holiday.  Outspoken, arrested, and isolated, she died in poverty.

Here is the appeal that Julia Ward Howe wrote:

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


Being the Hands of God

The mission of the Junipero Sierra High School Faith and Service Ministry is “As I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)

April work day - 44

Marco Hernandez, James Outman, Erin Court, Charlie Dowden, Ryan Krug and Mary Dowden

On April 28, 2014, several students and one staff member from Junipero Sierra put their mission into action and helped out the Redwood City Catholic Worker.

The students helped us with tasks that are important for hygiene and cleanliness, but are not very glamorous and not something that can easily be put on a college application.

The students cleaned our truck, cleaned plastic bins used in our food distribution, cleaned the porch, and cleaned the street.

Now, we only had five students, and one parent-staff, and so that’s a lot of work.

The truck that was cleaned is the truck that picks up  about 10,000 pounds of fresh produce every week. The produce  is used by the Padua Dining Hall of St. Anthony’s Parish  in Menlo Park and other Catholic Worker houses in the area, and is distributed on Friday at our Catholic Worker house.  

April work day - 03

James Outman and Marco Hernandez clean the inside of the Catholic Worker truck.

This truck also picks up furniture, paper for schools, and various surplus goods that need to be moved to people who can use them.

Other students cleaned bins that are used for food distribution at the Catholic Worker on Fridays. What happens is this: we are given cases of  produce that have some items that are spoiled. These cases are poured into the bins, and then cleaned and sorted. You can imagine that the bins need to be cleaned!  The students worked hard, used a lot of elbow grease.

April work day - 23

Mary Dowden, French teacher and parent, Charlie Dowden, and Ryan Krug clean the bins that are used for food distribution.

The Catholic Worker house is on Cassia Street in Redwood City. We do not have a regular street cleaning program, if we have one at all.   Erin, who is a self starter and responsible worker, was asked to clean up the street, cleaning both sides of the street. Not a very glamorous job, nor particularly social, as he was working alone. But at the end of the morning, the street was clean.

April work day - 25

Erin Court cleans the street, on both sides. A solitary and humble task: Erin is responsible.

The truck, inside and out, the food bins, inside an out, and the street: All cleaned.

Thank you, Sierra Students. Thank you  James Outman, Charlie Dowden, Erin Court, Ryan Krug, Marco Hernandez and parent/teacher Mary Dowden!!!  We hope you come back and help us out again.


Good Friday Prayer at Lockheed Martin

Prayers for conversion of our hearts and conversion of our warmaking Empire 

About 50 people gathered at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA to reflect and pray about the consequences of war and empire to the earth and all life on the earth. Under the umbrella of the Pacific Life Community,  Catholic Workers, people in religious orders, students from Notre Dame de Namur Univ in Belmont, and many, many friends gathered to remember those who suffer today. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor and a full-service weapons maker. Lockheed makes, among other things, missiles that carry trident nuclear warheads, and hellfire missiles that are used by drones. After the Stations of the Cross, three people walked up to the Lockheed Martin Gates, and when stopped by police, knelt down in prayer. Mary Jane Parrine, Ed Emhke, and Steve Kelly, SJ were cuffed and held by the Sunnyvale Police. Mary Jane was released, and has a citation that says she is charged with trespass. She has a court date in the Santa Clara Superior Court on June 4, 2014. Ed and Steve were held over Easter and were released near midnight on Tuesday, March 22.

Good Friday Call to Conversion at Lockheed Martin

Converting our hearts and our weapons….

Join  Catholic Worker communities, and the Pacific Life Community, at Lockheed Martin (Sunnyvale, CA) April 18, 2014 for the Stations of the Cross. We will meet at noon, at North Mathilda Ave and 5th Ave.


Good Friday, 2013 at Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor and a full-service weapons maker. Lockheed Martin has provided interrogators for Guantanamo Bay, built spy satellites, unmanned aircraft, cluster bombs, all sorts of military aircraft, and in Sunnyvale, builds missiles that carry nuclear warheads.

We call for the conversion of our hearts and Lockheed Martin from violence to nonviolence, from death dealing to life making. We know that the money spent on warmaking at Lockheed would create many more well paying jobs in schools, hospitals, clean energy, and general civilian use.

Everyone is welcome. Please join us.

Also, we’ll have a bake sale for the conversion of Lockheed.  Buns not Bombs! Scones not Drones!



April 2014 Redwood City Catholic Worker Newsletter

“God is light; there is no darkness
in God at all…” (1 John 1:5)

Dear Friends,

Alexandra was 13 years old when I first met her at Juvenile Hall. She was a straight A student and didn’t belong there. All day long she walked around the jail and cried because she too knew that this is not where she belonged. It’s always been extremely difficult to find foster homes for jailed teenagers.

Alexandra’s dad, an ophthalmologist, had brutally abused his daughter when she was very young, and then he committed suicide. Her mom was unable to care for her. Consequently, Alexandra came to the Catholic Worker House for troubled teens 39 years ago and was labeled an incorrigible.

Alexandra has been one of the 25 to 30 teens who has lived with us in the past and stayed connected to us because we became part of their emotional family. Over the decades, we’ve helped Alexandra get through high school & college, overcome eating disorders, survive some severe emotional ups and downs, and build a life & career as a single woman. She now tutors at risk teens in High School, and she really knows how to connect with their pain. Years ago we helped her buy a small house in Redding by matching her $7,000 down payment.

These days I am doing “Marriage Preparation” with Alexandra and her fiancée. This will be her first marriage and it is a tremendous achievement. I like to tell her, “You’ve come a long way baby!!!” The marriage will be a Catholic service at the Mission at Santa Clara University – her fiancée is a graduate of Santa Clara. The plan is for me to walk her down the aisle. As “father of the bride,” I assume there may be some hidden costs (a dress, the dinner, and renting the Mission).

One night at the Catholic Worker House, many, many years ago, Alexandra was in her bedroom, the lights out, and the door opened. I knew she was a very upset 14 year old. I said into the darkness, “You know, Alexandra, you’re very good at a lot of things.” She said, “Yeah, like what?” I responded, “You are the smartest 14 year old I have ever met, you can have intelligent and mature conversations with adults, and you are really kind to small children.” Out of her dark room, this little voice asked, “Larry can you tell me more things I’m good at?” I’ve been answering that last question for the past 39 years.

Our Catholic Worker Family would not be here if it weren’t for your help and God’s grace.

Happy Easter.
Peace and love,

Larry,  for all of us.


The Pacific Life Community (a non-violent, direct action group that protests against nuclear weapons and war) will gather on Good Friday, April 18th at Lockheed from noon to 1:30pm. We’ll meet at the corner of N. Mathilda Ave. & 5th Ave. in Sunnyvale. For info call Susan or Larry (650) 366-4415.


1. FOOD in any amount, a gas barbecue, bikes, bike locks, sleeping bags, pillows, a handy man, etc. With two computer labs and computers for our teens we need more tech support. Call Susan at 366-4415.

2. A van or truck for Catholic Worker houses in San Jose and Oakland. Call Larry (650) 366-4415

3. Day Laborers need jobs. Call Cesar or Ramon at (650) 339-2794.

4. A house or money to buy a house to help new young Catholic Workers open a new Catholic Worker House. Call Larry for a free cup of coffee–(650) 366-4415.

5. Our English Language School needs teachers and our tutoring program needs tutors. The school also needs a vacuum cleaner and the construction of a raised garden bed about 12 feet by 3 feet. We also need 60 1 inch binders. Call Mary Jane (650) 366-8315.

6. Your ongoing love and support. Not only will I have expenses as “father of the Bride;” but Alberto, another teen at the Catholic Worker, is going to Jr. College next year and we will subsidize him $2,000 a year for two years. Myra, our newest teen, (a junior at Sequoia) will be going to her Junior Prom – very exciting!!!! And with a dress, dinner, tickets, pictures and transportation that gets pricey too.