Film features faith and justice

Documentary delves deeper into the interdisciplinary life of Dorothy Day

At last Thursday’s screening of the new documentary, Revolutions of the Heart: The Dorthy Day Story, Martin Dobimeier addresses a packed Kennedy Auditorium about his filmmaking process and the impact of this story.

In collaboration with the Ethics/Religion and Society (E/RS) Program, the department of theology hosted a screening of Revolutions of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker Martin Doblmeier on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Taking place in Kennedy Auditorium, the event was part of a 30-stop nationwide tour before the film begins airing on PBS in March.

The screening was initiated by professor of theology Adam Clark and organized by Richard Polt, head of the     E/RS Program.

In light of Dorothy Day’s consideration for canonization by the Catholic Church, Revolutions of the Heart is a documentary about this woman’s extraordinary life.

As an activist, pacifist, journalist and grandmother, Dorothy Day lived a life that shaped modern Catholicism in America. Most notably, she is one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement that exposed injustices during the Great Depression and opened a network of houses for the poor.

Doblmeier believes that Dorothy Day is an interesting character for a film because of her commitment to justice while simultaneously living as a prominent figure in the public eye.

“People are hungry for this kind of story,” Doblmeier said. “(The tour has) been fun. We are having great crowds.” 

One of the attendees was first-year nursing major Natalie Toweson, who found the event thought-provoking.

“It was really interesting to bring him in,” she said. “You usually don’t get to hear about a lot of the detailed research that goes into it. (The film) was very well put together.”

One of the moments that stood out to Toweson was hearing the words, “she’s an anarchist on her way to becoming a saint.”

“(This quote) shows how radical she was in her beliefs and yet conservative in her religious values. She was an unapologetic fighter for the less fortunate,” Toweson said. 

One of the goals of the film is to demonstrate Day’s multifaceted life. As such, Doblmeier appreciated when one of the panelists spoke about Dorothy Day’s role as a mother.

“I think that that was a spot-on observation. (Motherhood) was a big moment for her,” Doblmeier said. “That really connected with me.”

For Catholic Chaplin Rev. Luke Hansen, Dorothy Day’s religious zeal continues to inspire his personal mission and the work of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice at Xavier.

“I think we live out (her legacy) here because we’re the center for both faith and justice,” Hansen said. “We encourage people to grow in their faith and live out that faith in service for others and living out justice.”

The event was also not the first time Doblmeier visited campus. Xavier organized a similar event in early 2019 that featured a viewing of Doblmeier’s film, Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story.

“We seemed to be able to connect with the audience a bit more this time,” Doblmeier remarked. “I feel very much so a part of the flow. I feel like a Musketeer.”

While he might feel like a Musketeer, Doblmeier attended Providence University for his undergraduate studies and received his master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University.

His films deal exclusively with religious faith and spirituality.

“I think of myself first as someone who is interested in the subjects of religion, faith and spirituality,” Doblmeier said. “My vehicle to explore that is filmmaking.”

Revolutions of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story will be shown on PBS beginning March 6 as part of programming for women’s history month.