The Long Loneliness

October 23, 2016



Text by Brendan Walsh

Artwork by Willa Bickham

Brendan Walsh and his wife Willa are long time Catholic Workers who have lived and worked in Baltimore, Maryland, since 1968, on the same corner.  Their book is a book for every person–for it echoes loud and clear the neglect of the poorest of the poor  in a city near Washington D.C. It shouts from the house tops that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It describes the poverty of inner City Baltimore as the city gentrifies. 

One of our presidential candidates told the Mayor of Oakland that the poverty in the inner city was a “local” problem.  Poverty, and drug addiction are not “local” problems, they are the problems of every person.

Recently there were a group of our “newer”  citizens pitching  tents at City Hall to protest homelessness, and I, in my concern,  took them some food, and their response–“It is people like you who cause this problem.”

It is greed, self centered greed that causes the problems of homelessness, and extreme poverty. Our need to have more and more. Rather than looking outside of ourselves to solve the problem of homelessness, we should look within ourselves.  This is where it begins with each one of us. Brendan and Willa have done this since 1968. They live with less so that others might have. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims

Buy their book, it is a beautiful testament to lives well lived!

The Power of God

October 19, 2016


Luke 12:39-48

When one stands at the entrance of Golden Gate Park at Stanyan and Haight one sees a pond that is flowing, beautiful trees, a terrain of a mixture of people, sitting and talking. It is a bucolic scene.

And than there is the  other side–the darkness and the evil that lurks along the edges. Through the years parents have come seeking their young sons who went to the edge of the Park and were never heard from again. They just disappeared.  Some were taken into child trafficking.

We do not hear about males being in child trafficking frankly it is because of the belief of the Alpha male, males can resist, they can not be forced to have sex, males can fight. That is frankly bull shit.

It is estimated that 3 per cent of victims of child trafficking are males.

In the same way we close our eyes and say “the death penalty has not be used in years, so no worries.” we hide in our world of pretend. On the ballot we have preposition 66 that will speed up the death penalty.Our long can we hide if this is passed?

We can be the “super heroes” and eliminate the death penalty, we can stand up. Today we invite you to join us:

Vigil at Noon

Earl Warren Supreme Court Building

350 McAllister Street

Come, Join us!

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty


Loving Our Neighbors Even When It Hurts

October 18, 2016


Throughout the Bible there are six hundred and thirteen laws, and than we have the thousands of laws that we fellow believers have derived from those 613 laws. All judgmental I might add.  But Jesus who summarized the whole law has only two:

“Love the Lord Your God With all of your mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

We mouth those words but it is hard as hell to live them, we prefer giving our judgments and punishments. It makes us feel good. When people criticize, condemn, and smear me I want to reach out with anger and hate;  I struggle sometimes with loving the people who have physically injured me; But Jesus tells us that to truly be free we must love God and our neighbor.

To be truly free in our state we must eliminate the death penalty. To be truly free we must let our desire for revenge go.  On Election Day, or  on your Absentee Ballot VOTE YES ON 62 NO ON 66 than  come join us on, Wednesday, October 19,2016 to Vigil Against the Death Penalty:



NOON-1:00 P.M.








October 16, 2016

The Grace of Persistence

Luke 18:1-8

We are presented today with a woman who wants something desperately and she stomps into a law office pleading for justice. She pleads for so long the judge finally gives in.

Last night at midnight I received a phone call, pleading with me to come to the Haight. My fever had just broken, and I tell James “No”, not very nicely; he calls again, and again, and I give in and go, and I am weak, sick, and grumpy.  James had an infection in the groin, he was embarrassed to tell me on the phone, that was turning gang green, and he possibly would have had fatal consequences if I had not taken him to the hospital. His persistence saved his life.

Persistence is the way I live my life. Last Wednesday I went to the Doctor with a high fever and she told me I had walking pneumonia, which can be fatal for me. As the fever raged the next three days, I looked at my life.  I have learned I hear very little positive feedback from people, one out of a hundred. My comments on Facebook lately have been  everything from calling me a “false priest,” to “sick faggot”, and as I laid here with a fever, comments like that torment me. Usually I laugh them off, but they haunt me when I am ill. Words hurt, and are the most destructive weapon we have, gossip is  destructive, and death giving. But in looking back the one word that went through my mind mind was persistence. Persistence to get my undergrad degree, even with a severe learning disability in regard to math and science; persistence for ordination in the face of being “too young”‘; persistence in surviving on the streets after being kicked out because I was queer; persistence in coming back to the priesthood, when I was told it was impossible; persistence in a ministry on the streets for the past twenty two years with more people telling me I did not stand a chance. What I have learned is that we can plead for an end, and yet we receive the strength to endure, plead for stability, and receive the grace to change. We ask for more time and receive the gift of eternal life.

Ultimately as the Angel of Death fluttered around me, and as my fever broke, I thought of these verses:

“The Word did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated, or pondered. But the Word became a person to be followed, enjoyed, and loved!” Anonymous

John  tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .” It is that Word that holds all things together in my life, and in the lives of the saints–all followers, both past and present.  That is all we have is the Word, and that is enough. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr.River Damien Sims, sfw



October 12, 2016



Earl Warren Supreme Court Building

350 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA

sponsored by Franciscans Against the Death Penalty


Fr. River Damien Sims

Recently we were told that in the 21st Century that morality and compassion are relative.  When morality and compassion become relative we lose our humanity. The death penalty is a form of death–when we become relative in our approach towards the death penalty  we cheapen  and demean  life.

We become spiritually and psychologically free only as we are able to see and integrate the shadow aspects of ourselves, and this will only be possible when we stop taking lives through the death penalty and war. We become spiritually and psychologically free when we see our responsibility in proving life through food, housing, and health care to all.

Join us on Wednesday. October 12, 2016 in front of the Earl Warren Supreme Court Building, in spirit or in person, and witness to the seamless thread of life, to life being of infinite worth. Join us in opposition against the death penalty in California.



“As we live our lives, we are in a sense creating a picture, a canvas. Every day we add strokes to the growing picture. I find it very helpful in my prayers to reflect on my life so far and ask if I had to paint a picture of my life – what would it look like? And then to ask for grace to glimpse something of what God’s picture of me is like.”

-Br. Geoffrey Tristram


Convicted Grateful Outsiders

October 11, 2016


Convicted  Grateful Outsiders

Luke 17:11-19

After his healing the Samaritan leper returns to thank Jesus. He is convicted by his response to Christ. Though cured  of his ailment he would always remain an out cast from Jewish society.  Our well worn path keeps us safe, but encountering Christ calls us to strike out on  new paths.

On this National Coming Out Day  we think of 19 year old Jason who painted the above painting ten years ago. He was a young man struggling with coming out and his Christian faith.  Throughout that struggle we talked of how in Christ we are set free on new paths–to walk the path of the law of love;  One night he cut his wrists and died.

I think of twenty year old Jeremy who is struggling with being transgender. His parents kicked him out, he is using drugs and is on the street.  We talk of how he is loved for who he is, and  the fact that God loves her for who she is.

The reality is that we will never fit into society for who we are totally. We are always different, but when we are convicted by Christ we are set free to be who we are. We are justified by Christ to live the law of love.  Personally people say I am “wild”, and “different”, and I own that. But I am convicted by Christ and in that conviction I live as a new person, free of labels, and free of judgment.

On this National Coming Out Day, allow yourself to be convicted by God, and to be set free into new life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Love Your Neighbor

October 10, 2016


Love One Another

Oskar Schindler

I have spent the weekend hosting a table  at the World Vegetarian Festival.  Fifteen years ago when I first attended the Festival it was filled with a wide mixture of people. Homeless kids were out front getting free food, and the political expressions were on the far left. Now it seems to be very white, middle to upper middle class, and the political expressions are rather boring. As far as I could see there were very few, if any homeless present.  When people visited the booth, they were far removed from the reality of homelessness in the City. This is present day San Francisco.

As I listened to the debates last night, I heard nothing about homelessness–not one word. And I think back many years ago to when I was a middle class pastor and remember I knew nothing about homelessness, I raised money for the homeless, but in fact I really knew nothing. It was only until I found myself on the streets that I came face to face with a way of life that is prevalent for so many, and is growing. It was only in the survival mode that I faced the issue of so much pain.

Someone yesterday said to me, “Well people who are poor will be rich in heaven.” And I thought back to the days of slavery when my relatives in the South would use religion to keep their slaves in place, by pushing “heaven by and by.”  I looked the gentleman in the eye and basically said, “The reign of God is here now, and each of us is called to provide for our neighbor,” and he walked away angry. To use religion as an excuse for poverty, war, and discrimination is counter to the Gospels. We are called to “love one another.” It is only when we take the blinder off our eyes and face the reality of the poverty, the racial and religious discrimination,in our midst that  can we truly enter the reign of God. It is only when each of us take the blinders off our eyes and share of what we have so that all might have do we truly experience the reign of God in our lives.

A guy yesterday commented:  “You are different than most priests–you do not proselytize people.”  The reality is  that God has many faces, and he comes to us in many ways. None of us have the corner on the market.

Oskar Schindler, a Jewish businessman, a womanizer, a philander, and a member of the Nazi Party saved thousand of Jewish lives.  On the ring given to  him by his Jewish workers are the words from the Talmud: “He who saves one life saves the entire world.”

Fr. River Damien Sims sfw,  D.S.T, D.Min. candidate

http://www.temenos. org

In Memory of Matthew Shepherd

October 7, 2016

In Memory of Matthew Shepherd

National Coming Out Day, October 11, 2016

At this time eighteen years ago Matthew Shepherd was being lured out into the country, where he was strung up against the fence and beaten to the point of death, and if he had lived he would have been paralyzed. He had tears streaming down his unconscious face when they found him. Matthew was a gay young guy, struggling with his sexuality, trying to find a place to belong. 

I think of a nineteen year old who one year ago tonight was beaten unconscious and permanently scarred in a park, because he was gay;  I hang out with a young man who is dying of cancer and his parents will  not  talk to him because he is gay, and so the list goes on and on.

In this presidential campaign homophobia is alive and well; in a recent article on our work in a national magazine we have received homophobic responses; we receive homophobic comments all the time on our blog. Homophobia is alive and well. And it destroys lives physically and psychologically.

I wear two rings: one is my episcopal ring, signifying my priesthood, and the other is a rainbow ring signifying  I am queer. My queerness has shaped and molded my life from birth, and I am grateful for it, it has brought me, rejection and hatred, as well as much love and joy. It is a gift given to me by God allowing me a rewarding ministry.My priesthood flows out of that struggle.  I have no regrets being born queer.  Being queer is not simply about physical sex, it is about who we are, it is about our psyche and our emotional make up. It is our identity, it makes us relate to people. I spent half my life trying to change-through -gay reparative therapy and simply denial, and I have on my wrists scars from a suicide attempt, and it came down to accepting who I was and that I was created who I am.  It was in that acceptance that Christ became real and alive, and I knew to whom I belonged, and nothing else mattered. For the essence of the Gospel is to love God and our neighbor. All else is in God’s hands.

Tonight in memory of Matthew Shepherd I encourage all who are LGBT and Questioning to come out–to come out and be who you are. It is not easy psychologically, it is not easy in our society in many places, but it is freeing. Come out, and in coming out we show that we are a gift of God to the world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Clown Within Each of Us

October 6, 2016

The Clown Within Each Of Us

St Bruno and Blessed Marie -Rose Durocher

Luke 11:5-13

“Trigger warning: This column will discuss clowns. If the notion of human beings in white pancake makeup with red rubber balls on their nose makes you want to hide under the bed, put the newspaper or device down and back slowly away. The rest of you: Proceed with caution.” —The Boston Globe

The past two nights on the news there have been warnings about the “Creepy Clowns” that are popping up across the country; last night a person  walks up to me in Golden Gate Park dressed as a “creepy clown” and makes fun of me, and jokes, and I give him some food and he hugs me and walks away.

What I believe we are seeing with the fears and concerns being raised about the “creepy clowns” are  reflections of our inner psyche, our fears and our concerns. One presidential candidate, minus the make up looks like a “creepy clown”; fear of terrorism, poverty is increasing, homophobia is rampant, sexism and racism in all forms is out in the open. There is an uneasiness in our country, and we project those feelings and fears onto what we see that is different–creepy clowns.

And the good that we can find in this is that if we face those fears, those fears can be tamed, and we can look at them, find inner peace, and work to bring all of those fears into a rainbow of inclusivity.

Clowns have always been a tool to bring humor into our lives, to make fun of that which we fear, to make us more human. I know of a ministry here in the City that often dresses up as clowns to bring humor into the poverty around them.

So rather than targeting our “creepy brother and sister clowns,” let’s find in their humor and their presence, a way of looking at what we most fear, and in examining that fear find wholeness in our lives. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you,” this is the message that the clowns offer us, they can be a doorway into the fuller awareness of God in our lives, and a healing of our fears. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Fr. River Damien Sims

We Are All Celebrities

October 5, 2016


Last year we had Sr. Helen Prejean speak at our Philip Workman Memorial Banquet and someone commented that it was too bad we did not have more “celebrities” to support the anti-death penalty issue, and then recently I had an email asking me “What celebrity are you having this year for  your event?

Suddenly and  personally I felt as if a knife was thrust deep into my heart, because I too was guilty of cultivating the idolatry of celebrity.  We all want fame, we all want to be known, and remembered, and it is a vanity of vanities.

The very cult of celebrity is what leads us to commit crimes, and hurt so many people, the need for recognition is an idol that leads to so many horrible acts. And it leads us to apathy. The cult of celebrity has lead to the many who are on death row, and we all play a part in that cult. We play a part in it by our own chasing celebrities, by our own apathy in reaching out unless we are lead by a “celebrity”. Let us recognize that each of us is a celebrity, each of us was created in the image of God.

Today at noon we will be demonstrating  in front of the Earl

Warren Supreme Court at 350 McAllister Street  against the death penalty, and probably alone; and on Friday we will have our annual Philip Workman Memorial Banquet at Stanyan and Haight at Noon–and so far one person is coming–we have no “celebrities” this year to bring people out. Or do we?

This year we recognize that each person we meet in the Golden  Gate Park, on the street, and in front of the court building is a celebrity, each one is equal, each one is worth being loved, each one deserves food, health care, equality, and recognition; each one contains within them the image of God.

Today we remember Barney Fuller Jr, who is scheduled for execution today in Texas and his victims Nathan Copeland and his wife Annette. My the peace of God be with them. Join with me this evening in the Office of the Dead or a time of silence in remembering Barney, Nathan, and Annette.


Stanyan and Haight Streets

Friday, October 7, 2016


Vegetarian Pizza to be served to the homeless, Philip
Workman’s last request

Celebrity Participants:  All



350 McAllister Street

TODAY–12 Noon

Celebrity Participants–ALL


For More Information on Philip Workman Event. contact:

Fr. River Damien Sims