• The paper connects the poet and artist David Jones and the Roman Catholic artisanal community at Ditchling, Sussex, and Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker organisation in and around New York. Day learned about Ditchling through volumes published by the British Roman Catholic publisher Sheed & Ward, which had responded to the emergence of an American Roman Catholic college-educated population in the 1930s and 1940s by setting up a New York office. Maisie Ward (of the publisher) would also introduce Day to the practice of retreat, which decisively shaped the activities of the Catholic Worker. Drawing on archival work in the personal papers of Jones and Day, the paper uses these historical exchanges to reflect upon the emergence of a transatlantic twentieth-century retreat movement that incorporated Ignatian models, personalist philosophy, and artisanal values. ‘Fools to the World’ attends to how, for Jones and Day, retreat exemplified the artistic and spiritual importance of non-utilitarian, gratuitous activity. From this, retreat emerges as both a constituent part of a broader critique of modernity and a distinctive and creative form of lay religious practice.