Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

At Atlanta’s Open Door Community in its final days

Published January 10, 2017

A trinket of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker, hangs on a wall at Atlanta’s Open Door Community. The nonprofit is to close in January 2017.

I heard my grandmother’s voice as I walked in the Open Door Community on a rainy day, although she died more than 15 years ago.

Handing out bags of hospitality to waiting homeless men was a lovely woman with an even more lovely Scottish burr. It was this woman’s voice that plucked at my heartstrings.

That would be Rev. Connie Bonner, who hails from the Borders region of Scotland. She grew up a ways from my late grandmother, who spent the last 30 years of her life farther up the coast of the North Sea in Montrose. But as far as I was concerned close enough to sound alike.

The minister and her husband are longtimers  at the Open Door Community. They have flown across the Atlantic for the past 15 years for months at a time to serve Atlanta’s marginalized. They’ve seen little of the United States besides the ebb and flow of life outside 910 Ponce de Leon. We talked after they offered me a cup of tea.

You’ll read more about them in the upcoming issue.

Closing after 35 years

The Open Door Community is stopping its service this month. I visited twice in December, talking with folk to get the temperature of the place where for more than a generation the homeless could get a meal and a shower. Members also raised their voice for the voiceless, being advocates for those on death row.

Organizers were inspired by the Catholic Worker Movement and adapted it to a largely Protestant crowd. None the less, paintings and displays of the Catholic Worker founder, Dorothy Day, along with the late Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, can be found all over the building.

The final public action of the Open Door Community is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 14.  Advocates intend to march around the Georgia Statehouse to protest the death penalty.  The aging Open Door founders then will make their way to new homes in the West and Maryland, and intend to join with activists in their new cities.  –Andrew Nelson



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