Edward Willock (1916–1960)

Edward Francis Willock was born in Boston, April 22, 1916, to a large, working-class Irish family. He graduated from Mission High School in Boston in 1934 and started helping at the Tremont street Hospitality House of the Catholic Worker Movement.  He went to night school and after graduation started to work in various jobs.  But the Great  Depression and the lack of corporate or government concern caused by the inhuman conditions and inequality around him made him seek some answers to the suffering he saw. In 1938,  Ed Willock ran the Catholic Worker house in Worcester, Massachusetts.  It was there that he met a young graduate student also imbued with the Catholic Action spirit, Dorothy Brophy. Married in 1940, they ultimately had 12 children.

He was impressed with the Catholic Workers’ plan of helping one’s neighbor and he had found the ideas of a complacent Catholic public to be as problematic to solving of the problems in society as did the Worker's founder, Dorothy Day.  He listened to the lectures at the Worker on the Green Revolution and Catholic Radicalism as well as  the economic principles of the Distributism and Personalism.  Ed had been working several jobs and taking some art training when he could.  He started to send some of his cartoons to The Torch, a magazine published by Third Order Dominicans. In 1945, the Willocks and Carol Jackson moved to New York City to launch a new Catholic magazine, Integrity.

Willock also helped to found Marycrest, a lay Catholic community in Pearl, New York. He died, after a lengthy illness, in New York in 1960.  

This article is excerpted and adapted from Kathleen Carlton Johnson, “Lay Catholic Action at Work: Marion Mitchell Stancioff and Integrity Magazine,” a paper presented at the Spring Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association, Philadelphia, April, 2009. CHn is grateful to Mrs. Johnson for permission to use this material.


J.T. Fisher, The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962