Dorothy Day aboard the Staten Island Ferry during the 1970s (Photo Credit: Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University)

Sister City News: A Ferry is Named After a Saint

Will the San Francisco Bay Area soon christen a ferry after a saint? The precedent has been set in New York.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a convert to Catholicism who led the Catholic Worker movement, founded during the Great Depression. As a journalist, Day edited The Catholic Worker newspaper, first published on May 1, 1933. She maintained the movement’s pacifism even during World War II, while operating soup kitchens, including one on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that remains in operation today. Day was repeatedly arrested for her postwar protests during New York City’s air raid drills, which criticized nuclear war preparation. Hailed by Pope Francis in his speech to the U.S. Congress in 2015, Day has been submitted to the Vatican as a candidate for canonization by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Day regularly rode the Staten Island Ferry to reach her cottage on Staten Island’s South Shore and is buried in Pleasant Plains.

Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez recently led the inaugural ride of the Dorothy Day, the third and final 4,500-passenger Ollis-class Staten Island Ferry vessel joining the fleet. They were joined on the ride from St. George Terminal on Staten Island by Archdiocesan officials, as well as family, friends and colleagues of Day, a legendary 20th century Catholic peace activist. The new $85 million, state-of-the-art ferry has completed harbor trials and passed all requisite safety inspections, and will go into regular passenger service in the next week.

“I know the incredible Staten Island Ferry staff are especially proud to officially bring the Dorothy Day into the harbor today,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “We know that during her life, Day loved riding this ferry — and she was like Staten Islanders who know that a short ferry ride can serve as a peaceful, even meaningful, escape from the hustle and bustle of life in our city. We thank all the activists—from the Catholic Worker, the Dorothy Day Guild and so many other places — who are joining us today, as they keep Dorothy’s vital memory and incredible legacy alive.”

Cultural Currents readers may recall our story about Author Lorenzo Lucchesi, who has produced the family-held stories and testimony of Islanders ranging from century-old residents to politicians to restauranteurs to bakers to tradesmen to tell the incredible story of New York City’s last frontier:

 Staten Island: Like It or Not! should resonate with San Francisco Bay Area ferry riders as it explores the consequences of redevelopment and bad-idea transit alternatives like BART and car-hailing services.