download the whole interview: Kathy interviews Jeff Dietrich
My name is Kathy Shepard and this is Mr. Jeff Dietrich. Jeff Dietrich is doing a very important work in the community. I’d like to thank you first for this service. I think it’s wonderful. How long has your group been on skid row?
Jeff: The Los Angeles Catholic Worker is part of the Catholic Worker movement which was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. So we’re part of a larger movement within the Catholic church -the lay Catholic movement- that started during the depression in 1933.
There are about 150 houses like ours through-out the country and a few through-out Europe and Australia. We started in 1970. We were founded by a an ex-priest and an ex-nun named Dan and Chris Dolini. Their very first feed was just two blocks from here at 2nd and Main, in front of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, as a kind of a protest against- at that time-Cardinal Manning. So, I came about 6 months after that happened and the community was Dan and Chris and their son.
They were serving meals on Winston Street right down on the next block form here, where it’s called the “Misery House”. Is it still called the “Misery House”? Yeah, I mean you know that it’s the St. Vincent Center or something. Does anyone know why it’s called the “Misery House”? It’s so miserable? Well anyway, the Misery House was actually called “Miserere House”- a Latin word- and it means “Have mercy on us.” Lord have mercy on us. But all the guys called it “Misery House”, cause it was a pretty miserable place to be and it did smell like Hell.
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