Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

  • Last updated: June 6, 2016 (11 months ago)
  • Listing created on: December 31, 1999

Mission Statement

We are a community of people dedicated to living out the Gospel values of loving our enemies and attempting to take personal responsibility for the needy sisters and brothers in our society. We follow the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement. We believe in nonviolence as a way of life, gentle personalism, and the practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. We choose to live a life of voluntary poverty.

Community Description

Casa Maria is a work-based community. The Casa Maria Hospitality House gives hospitality to homeless women, families, refugees and asylees and they stay with us until they find places of their own. We provide food, clothing, used furniture, etc., which are donated to us by the public, to help our guests and others in need of such. We also try to root out the causes of poverty and violence by nonviolently protesting and refusing to cooperate with the military and the US government as well as opposing the causes of poverty.

Anyone who wishes to live a life of voluntary poverty, to dedicate their life to the needy and oppressed, and to live a life of nonviolence and gentle personalism and who is willing to live in community is invited to join the Casa Maria Community when we have open rooms.

The Catholic Worker movement started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933 in New York. The Casa Maria Catholic Worker House on 21st Street was started by Annette and Michael Cullen in 1966, after moving from the original location on Milwaukee’s South Side.

The community has never sought to receive government support for our work and do not want to risk becoming a social agency for fear that it would interfere with our ministry.

Ultimately, we are striving to create a society in which it is easier for people to be good and we trust in divine providence to provide. We currently run four houses:

Casa Maria (1131 N. 21st St.) takes in single mothers and their children who are in need of housing.

Sister Pat’s House & Mapendo House (1127-29 and 1124 N 21st St.) provide longer-term housing to families and women who need more support. They stay with us until such a time that they can find work and a decent place to live.

Harmony House (1149-51 N 21st St.) is a community house where volunteers stay and live in common. Harmony House also invites refugees, asylum seekers, and others facing difficulties within the immigration system to be a part of our community for a transitional period of time.

The Farm is located in Watertown, WI and supplements our Milwaukee houses with fresh eggs and produce, while also experimenting in sustainable environments.


  • Type(s): Spiritual or Religious Community
  • Programs & Activities: Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship
  • Location: Urban


  • Current Number of Residences: 5
  • Land owned by: The Community


  • Adult Members: 20
  • Child Members: 7
  • Percent Women: 41-49%
  • Percent Men: 41-49%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes


  • Decision Making: Consensus (everyone agrees)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: No


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0

Sustainability Practices

  • Current food produced: Up to 25%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s)
  • Shared meals: Rarely
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals)
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used occasionally.

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

Catholic Worker