Featured Profile #26), was a railroad switchman and her mother worked at a notions counter in a store. The family was very poor. Her father was a Socialist, although for a worker in Milwaukee, which has a strong Socialist tradition, this would not have been unusual.
When growing up, Nina took the opportunity to hear visiting St. Louis Jesuits speak at her local parish. Therefore, early on, she was exposed to a more in-depth look into Catholic theology. In 1934, Nina was enrolled at Marquette and attending more religious classes at St. Matthew's when she was introduced to The Catholic Worker newspaper which were distributed by Rev. Franklyn Kennedy, a graduate student in journalism at Marquette and the editor of the diocesan newspaper. About that time, Nina learned that Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was going to be in Chicago. Nina persuaded Jeremiah O'Sullivan, Dean of Marquette's School of Journalism, to invite Dorothy to speak at Marquette. Dorothy accepted, and after the speech, she stayed with Max and Helen Polcyn. Dorothy and Nina formed a friendship that night that would last the rest of their lives. Besides working together, Dorothy and Nina took several foreign excursions together, and Nina also helped Dorothy in other ways, such as occasionally bailing her out of jail. (Nina's relationship with Dorothy Day may be our community's closest connection to a saint. Some already consider Dorothy Day a saint and her possible canonization is under review by the Vatican.)
In 1935, Nina graduated from Marquette. In what must have been an act of faith, her parents let her leave and travel to New York City by herself where she stayed at the Catholic Worker for a month. Inspired by that experience, she returned to Milwaukee were she eventually co-founded the Holy Family House, Milwaukee's first Catholic Worker house. Nina lived in the Holy Family House for four years until it was forced to close to in part due to lack of manpower to run it.
Upon the close of the CW house in 1941, Nina was given a job working in St. Benet's religious book shop in Chicago's Loop. In the evenings, she taught adults in subjects such as liturgy, science, mathematics, women in wartime and race relations. Within a few months, the attendance at those classes exceeded 2,000. By 1943, she was handed the management of the bookstore which she ran for the next 30 years. During that time, she made it into a haven for those interested in Catholic progressive thought, as well as religious art and religion in general.
In 1973, Nina retired from St. Benet's when she married widower Thomas Eugene Moore, whom she had known at Marquette. (He had been among the audience during that fateful 1935 speech of Dorothy Day.) They resided in Sauk Center, Minnesota until they retired to Evanston, Illinois in 1982.
Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (John W. Polczyn, Featured Profile #26): Niece
Harmon, Kathleen E., "Nina Polcyn Moore and the Next Generation of Liturgical Advocates," in There Were Also Women There: Lay Women in the Liturgical Movement in the United States, 1926 -59.
"Nina Polcyn Moore," Sauk Center Herald,
"Nina Polcyn Moore: 1914 - 2006" [sic], ChicagoTribune.com
Riegle, Rosalie G., "Nina Polcyn Moore (1914-2007) at PieandCoffee.org