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Dorothy Day House

household: Yeliz Basafacan, Andy Paine, Amelia Tatham, Joe Dowling, Ratz, Franz Dowling and Rebekah

LIVING below the poverty line is actively encouraged in Rebekah Dowling’s household.

The 23-year-old university student is one of seven housemates, including two of her brothers, who have chosen to live “voluntary poverty” in a Christian community in Greenslopes.

“I feel it’s the way Jesus wants us to live,” Miss Dowling said.

The daughter of West End Catholic Worker Movement founders Jim Dowling and wife Anne Rampa grew up in a radical Christian family in Brisbane that embraced an alternative to the waste culture.

“The ethos and philosophy of the Catholic Worker Movement is hospitality, living simply or voluntary poverty, sustainability and activist,” Miss Dowling said.

Although the family moved from Brisbane to set up a self-sustainable farm in Dayboro, three of the Dowling children ventured back to the city to set up a house to serve the poor and vulnerable.

Their home, Dorothy Day House, named after Catholic social activist and Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Servant of God Dorothy Day, not only houses seven young people but is a common pit-stop for the marginalised, who are welcome to stay in their “Jesus Room”.

“The concept of the Jesus Room is that everyone should house Jesus, who said ‘For I was a stranger and you invited me into your home’, therefore someone in need,” Miss Dowling said.

“We take it to the extreme as there’s more than one room.

“We have many beds, and many cushions.”

The Capuchin Friars in South Brisbane have taken a liking to the radical household, visiting Miss Dowling and her housemates at their former house in South Brisbane.

Dorothy Day House Brisbane is just one of many hospitality houses around the world attracting young people to live radically for the Gospel.

Housemates in houses around the world must be completely dry as there is no tolerance for alcohol or drug abuse, and cohabitation is also forbidden inside the house.

Members also have a personal obligation to care for the poor and practice the spiritual and corporal Works of Mercy daily.

Friday nights are dedicated to feeding the homeless, among other missions.

“We are involved in environmental projects, anti-war, pro-life, refugees, and many other issues that come up,” Miss Dowling said.

Prayer holds the house together, with housemates and guests called to recite prayers communally in the morning.

“Anyone who wants to live the Gospel seriously should live this way,” Miss Dowling said.

“It’s a consistent life ethic.”

Miss Dowling said anyone could start a household, and weren’t necessarily called to embrace the Catholic Worker Movement.

By Emilie Ng

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