Our History

In January 1982, Brett and Lisa Vanderlinden put a $1,000 down-payment on a house at 1027 5th Avenue SE. With the help and dedication of several others, they would soon open what we know today as Catholic Worker House (CWH).

Through transitions over the years, we now serve single women and married couples with or without children. We serve breakfast and warm dinner daily. One of Lisa Vanderlinden’s favorite quotes came from St. Theresa of Avila: “Life is but a night spent in an uncomfortable inn, crowded together with other wayfarers.” This is still very true today.

The name, St. John of the Cross Catholic Worker House, was chosen because St. John of the Cross lived a life of poverty and imprisonment. After his escape from prison, he dedicated his life to tending to the many needs of the homeless and poor around him. Today at CWH we continue to reach out to those who need us.

The opening of the Catholic Worker House was a step in the right direction for our community. Lisa Vanderlinden said, “We are learning a very important lesson. The Catholic Worker House is much more than a house. It is a Christian community dedicated to helping the poor. Even though we had a house and furniture, without people willing to live in the house as staff, a Catholic Worker House would not exist. The driving force of the Catholic must be from the inside, reaching outward…”

In 2009 Larissa Ruffin took over as House Manager. Since her arrival we have:

  • Doubled the number of people we serve
  • Remodeled the main house
  • Opened an extension house (CWHx)
  • Received a new website
  • Started the Impact Fund
  • Helped the community through numerous floods and disasters, including the 2020 Derecho

How you can help