The 1980s were a significant period of change. In November of 1980, Dorothy Day's death left the paper for first time in its nearly 50 year run without the presence of another of its co-founders. Similarly to how the 1950s functioned after Peter Maurin's death, a common theme of the 1980s was remembering Dorothy Day and figuring out what it meant to continue on after her passing.
Dorothy Day's passing wasn't the only major event to have a recurring focus in the Catholic Worker. The continuing crises in Central and South America and the increasing tension in the Middle East both were commonly talked about. Apartheid in South Africa was another issue that began to have increasing coverage within the pages of the Catholic Worker. Other themes, such as nuclear weapons, also reemerged in light of US military expansion in the 1980s. Similarly, the US farm crisis remained as a frequent focus of the Catholic Worker. However, new crises were also beginning to emerge. A major worldwide crisis that can be seen in the pages of the Catholic Worker is the outbreak of HIV/AIDs in 1981.