Mary House was inspired and modeled after The Catholic Worker Movement, but is an independent organization without church or government affiliation. Our goal for the past 38 years is best expressed by the movement’s founder, Dorothy Day. “What we would like to do is change the world—make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute—the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words—we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world.”
In that spirit, for more than four decades Co-founders and Co-directors of Mary House, Bill and Sharon Murphy have devoted their lives to offering housing and other support services to homeless and war-displaced refugee families in the Washington DC area. Beginning in the early 1970’s, both volunteered at Zacchaeus Soup Kitchen and Hospitality House and found themselves wanting to do more for people in need. In 1981, Bill and Sharon started Mary House with their three small children out of a single family home, to provide housing to homeless families and to teach their children about sharing, compassion, and justice. Their home quickly became crowded with up to three families as they found more and more people in need of housing. This need for shelter and transitional housing has never slowed down. Mary House has continued to respond by purchasing other houses and small apartment buildings, and now has the capacity to house up to 60 families at the 13 different properties it owns and operates. In its 39 year history, Mary House has sheltered more than 400 families and has cared for hundreds more.