April 22, 2017

1259 words


Grieving is not fun–it is painful, it is a necessary process, grieving is an act of letting go of ourselves when we face death in one form or another. It is not something that is welcome in our society–we are told to “put a smile on,” “be brave, be strong,” and we basically ignore the pain of grieving, I have come to the point that when any one tells me in one form or another not to grieve I tell them to “Go to hell,” because grief is necessary to our recovery. I have been grieving all year.

First I am now grieving the leaving of the Reverend Dana Corsello, from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church–I am happy for her as well in her new position–but it hurts like hell, to see her go,I am crying alot.  I met Dana nearly seven years ago, she invited me to use the kitchen  at the church–on faith–not knowing me; she has stood by me putting herself at risk, she has been my pastor (the only one, and last one I will have since I entered the ministry), she has been my friend; more importantly I have come to understand she has embodied the characteristics which I have and which I learned from my my mother: she is a straight shooter, tells it like it is, she is faithful to Christ, she is loyal in the face of opposition. She never hides her feelings, she never hides her faults or mistakes–she always owns them–she is in essence very real. Dana is the one person I have always felt safe with. I have grown as a person, and as a priest knowing Dana Corsello.  So I will miss her.

I grieve the loss of three of my guys this year. I call them my kids,  they were all over forty –but always my kids, for I have walked with them these past twenty years. The title “Father” for me is symbolic of the parental role I have always played with my “parishioners,”  I grieve them, they gave me as much as I gave them in their strengths.

I grieve for those being put to death on death row in Arkansas, and the inhumanity that our leaders show in the implementation of these executions.

I grieve on this Earth Day because of the lack of care we give creation. For example we need to look at our meat eating and how if we limit our eating we would contribute to care of the earth. Eighty percent of deforestation is from raising meat; Half the world’s grain and about 3/4 of the various major crops in the United States are fed to live stock animals. Meanwhile about one billion people chronically suffer from hunger and starvation. Limiting our consumption of meat  is one simple way each of us can contribute to  limiting climate change and easing world hunger.

And finally next month I receive my Doctor of Ministry Degree from Knox Theological Seminary, and I grieve the end of my academic career. I have always loved being on campus, studying, being tested, it has always been a means of building my self-esteem. I grieve the friends I have met, who have challenged me, fought with me, and loved me for me.  That will change. And in some ways getting this degree signals for me changes in my own journey and  to a new beginning in ministry, for my ministry is who I am, and it will be what I will do the rest of my life. 

So I grieve, and it is a painful grief,  but I rejoice as well in the Risen Christ who journeys with me, and who journeys with all who open their hearts to him.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Vox Nova is pleased to share the following guest post by Tom Johnson, a Catholic Worker from Dubuque, Iowa, USA.

I have been torn during this presidential election year. As a Catholic Worker, I agree in principle with the movement’s aims and means that the vast size of the U.S. Federal Government makes it “government by nobody”i and, its function as “an effective political forum for redressing grievances, next to impossible.”ii

Then came Bernie Sanders, whose message of economic equality and revolution promised what sounded a lot like Peter Maurin’s “new society within the shell of the old.”iii I felt “the Bern” and became involved.

The presidential campaign system, however, already biased toward the Establishment of the wealthy and seasoned with dirty tricks, rendered its foregone conclusion. I was swayed by the advice that “voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” I therefore could not bring myself to vote for either of the candidates, whose policies, to me seemed equally evil.

“But,” I have asked myself more than once, “where can I run from such evil? Where or what is that system which allows principled, compassionate government? Is holding to my principles an excuse for doing nothing?”iv Is it possible for a radical Christian, a Catholic Worker, to live morally, responsibly, and effectively within the current society? What spiritual attitudes and behaviors are required?

“The Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker”v advises the adoption of nonviolence, practicing the works of mercy; doing manual labor; and voluntary poverty. Regarding nonviolent sociopolitical action, it advises:

Jesus taught us to take suffering upon ourselves rather than inflict it upon others, and He calls us to fight against violence with the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting and noncooperation with evil. Refusal to pay taxes for war, to register for conscription, to comply with any unjust legislation; participation in nonviolent strikes and boycotts, protests or vigils; withdrawal of support for dominant systems, corporate funding or usurious practices are all excellent means to establish

I would further recommend – particularly for those who are upset by the current administration of the Empire – the practice of contemplation, a mystical form of prayer slightly distinct from meditation. Contemplation, or Centering Prayer, which leads one away from what Alan Watts describes as our artificial “system of words and symbols”vii to what is real, the world as it actually exists. In other words, we stop looking at our human-made map and regard the scenery, the world as it is.

Contemplation allows us to “Be still and know that I am God!”viii; that God is ultimately responsible and capable, not me or any other human being or system. It reminds us:

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down

And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,

Giving seed to those who sow
and bread to those who eat,

So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;

It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

It helps me to realize that God’s creative work, although yet unfulfilled, is nevertheless evolving toward wholeness, and with my/our cooperation, God’s reign of justice will indeed prevail.

AnchorWhen I act politically with the confidence that God’s justice will indeed be accomplished someday, I can choose more calmly and proactively, per principle rather than expedient or knee-jerk reactions.

Strangers and sojourners though we may be as we make our life’s journey as subjects of the American Empire, we may travel in the certainty that God will lead us to the Promised Land of justice.


Fast For Life

April 13, 2017



Today is Holy Thursday. This morning  Sean, nineteen, called me.  I met him, and he had been crying, and looked worn out.  He said he hated to ask me, but he had not eaten in two days. As we sat at a restaurant, he brightened, food does wonders.  And my thoughts  turned to all the acts of death we experience in our society and turn a blind eye to:  war, child trafficking, discrimination of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation.  These are all real–and they are very real in our country–hunger in San Francisco, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation  discrimination –in San Francisco, –and throughout our country.

Today sitting with Sean tore my heart to shreds. He acted out at a youth shelter and was kicked out, he was afraid to go to the soup kitchens because first of all he is young, slight, and  secondly he is fearful because he is transgender. 

The truth is Sean should not have to come with his tail tucked between his legs to have to ask me for food–food, housing, health insurance should be his without question.

The next twenty four hours I am going to Fast for Life–I will not eat until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow–and than eat one meal a day from hence forth.  For what I realized is how privileged, and smug I am.  Even in the worst times of my life I have never gone hungry, never not had health insurance, never not had a  place to stay. I have always been the white hustler who could hustler what was  needed. I have always been the privileged white male, with his education, and access to privileged. And I am a smug  bastard, for none of us are privileged, we are just lucky sperm. This has hit me hard seeing Sean, seeing people in tents and under card board on the streets in the rain.

We remember in the  next three days the crucifixion and resurrection  that speaks loud and clear that Jesus of Nazareth values each one of us, uniquely, for who we are, he loves us without exception, and he calls each of us to love one another. Jesus has made all of us privileged and calls each of us to value the other as privileged. 

My invitation to each person who reads this is to feed one person you meet on the street, give them some money, or simply talked to them, listen to them, treat them as privileged–and do so without judgment!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Sacred Space

April 12, 2017


On Good Friday as we  we walk through the Tenderloin many of us will be nervous, on guard, and we will see a mixture of people–well dressed business men and women, techies , and than  drug users, and the homeless. We will see people suffering from mental illness, and from the effects of living on the streets for many years.  And than after dark it will become a place of drug selling and using. For me this is Sacred Space.

Across the street at the Supreme Court Building I have vigiled against the death penalty for years, mostly alone. I have been spit upon, and threatened, and have had people share of their pain over loved ones being murdered, or who are on death row. That is Sacred Space.

Around the corner is a Park for children, and many years ago there was a needle exchange there on Thursday nights, and it was there that I was stabbed by a needle with blood, from which I was infected with malaria, that haunts me to this day–and which reminds me of how fragile life is, and the pain of so many–it is sacred space.

As we go up the street we will see the places that provide food, and clothing, and medical care to so many homeless people–that is Sacred Space.

Two weeks ago I held a young man in my arms as blood drained from his body late one night after being stabbed at Golden Gate and Hyde–that is Sacred Space.

The Tenderloin for over twenty years has reminded me that Christ is crucified here hourly, and for that reason it is Sacred Space. So as we walk through these streets, I encourage you to keep silent, use the rosary or the pin I am giving you, and meditate on the lives of people who suffer here. As we walk I urge you to pray “Lord have mercy,” listening in your mind to the words of the hymn “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

These Stations today mark the Sacred Space of life and death, and of the hope of resurrection. This is not a fun walk, this is not a worship experience for ourselves alone, it is bringing the reality of these Sacred Spaces alive in our  midst today. It is for us to feel the crucifixion that happens on the the streets every day, and know that we are in Sacred Space.

This Sacred Space is created by Jesus.  Not the Jesus of our church sanctuaries where we sit comfortably, and talk to our friends,  not the lily white Jesus of our art, or the Jesus who is above our humanity, beyond our flesh and blood, but the brown, Jewish Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples, and in so doing reminded them that it is in the dirt of humanity they are  called to serve, and in so doing wash the feet of Jesus.  Jesus creates Sacred Space out of the worst, and the dirtiest.

And in the Jesus of Good Friday we have the ultimate pledge of God to humanity–the pledge to love us until the end of time, and calling each of us to be  the broken body of Christ.

These days I remember my first District Superintendent, E.W. Bartley, who died recently at the age of a hundred. He gave me my first church as a seventeen year old snotty nose kid, and he gave me a quote that has guided my life:

“Life is not to be neat, tidy, well put together, but an adventure to be lived, and when we slide into home base at the end we  will be , saying, “What a ride, what a ride!”

I continue the journey, and I continue it in the Sacred Space, and I invite my friends, my enemies, my colleagues  to join me on this journey, and to join me on Good Friday as we come together to walk the Stations remembering our call to walk with the hungry, the disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the abused, and those on death  row and their victims and to continue  their journey until they slide into home base saying, “What a ride! What a ride!


April 14, 2017

City Hall: Polk and McAllister



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

P.O. Box 642656

Temenos Catholic Worker

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty



Speak Up

April 11, 2017

Queer Stations of the Cross


We are moving towards the cross.

This year we are especially aware of that journey. Arkansas is getting ready to have a “mass execution” in April. Recently one of the condemned was denied clemency:

‘This past Friday, The Arkansas Parole Board unanimously denied the petition for clemency of Jack Harold Jones Jr, one of seven inmates on Death Row scheduled for execution in a ten day period at the end of this month. Jones joins four other inmates who have filed for clemency and were denied by the Parole Board. Yesterday, lawyers representing all seven inmates with execution dates between April…”

I invite you regardless of your religious persuasion to come and remember these inmates, and remember all who are on death row facing execution, remember Dylan Smart who has been sentenced to death, and remember their victims.

I invite you to write to the Governor of Arkansas (go on the web for the address) and protest the executions.

Let pray that all in the decision making process have an awareness of their  humanity in their decisions.

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

Franciscan’s Against the Death Penalty


Tenderloin Stations of the Cross

Friday, April 14, 2017

Begin at City Hall Polk Street Side/McAllister and Polk

12 Noon


By his wounds, we PAY ATTENTION Pay attention to what happens in the next few days. Pay attention to what goes on around you and within you. Pay attention to the water on your feet and the roughness of the towel in your hand. Pay attention to the softness of the bread and the sting of the wine in your throat. Pay attention to the brusqueness of the kiss and the splinters of the cross. Pay attention to the coldness of the tomb and the terror that clutches your heart. Pay attention to the brightness of the dawning light and the life that bursts forth. – Br. James Koester Matthew 26:14-25–Wednesday, April 12, 2017 Rachel Carson ————————————————————————— Yesterday afternoon I was headed into Walgreens, and there was a black middle aged man in a wheel chair. He asked me to buy him an item in order for him to change his diapers. As I came out he was surrounded by a group of young men and women, who were well dressed, and they were making fun of him, calling him a baby among other things, and telling him he needed to leave Polk Street. As I stepped in between the man and the younger people– in their eyes what I saw was not hate, but fear- fear of aging, fear of illness, fear of homelessness. And those fears turned them into Judas. We need to pay attention to our fears for our fears make us Judas, they make us betrayers of Jesus. The Anima Christi reminds me each day that each of us has the capacity to be Christ or to be Judas. We must continually remind ourselves of the wounds of Jesus. Jesus’ wounds also serve as a resting place for us. “Within your wounds hide me” speaks of uniting our own wounds to those of Jesus. By placing ourselves within his wounded side, hands, and feet, our own wounds become known, transformed, and healed. When I prayed with the image of Jesus being scourged, part of me desired to take a blow so that Jesus would not have to take so many. But Jesus was insistent that he cover me with his own body and take the suffering upon himself. We might want to shelter Jesus, but it is Jesus who takes on human suffering, and so shelters us from suffering and the consequences of sin. Knowing that God comes to be with us in our suffering is also what allows us to go and to be with other people in theirs. We cannot always alleviate others’ pain by removing it from them, but we can faithfully remain present to them so that they are not alone. What Jesus does for us becomes mirrored in what we can then go out and do for others. What we receive in love, we can then go on to give. ——————————————————————- Anima Christi Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ save me. Blood of Christ inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O Good Jesus, hear me. Permit me not to be separated from you. From the wicked foe, defend me. At the hour of my death, call me. and bid me come to you. That with your saints I may praise you. For ever and ever. Amen. Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate P.O. Box 642656 San Francisco, CA 94164 415-305-2124

April 11, 2017

By His Wounds We Wonder

April 10, 2017

Queer Stations of the Cross.jpg

Jo Jo.jpg



Tuesday, Holy Week, 2017

Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-38

Fr. George Zabelka

“Communion with Christ can not be established on disobedience to his clearest teachings.”

By his wounds, we WONDER

Why do those who speak the truth, who champion the cause of the poor, who offer hope to the downtrodden, so often become the targets of insults, persecutions, and violent attacks? We wouldn’t expect it to be this way, but so often it is. Perhaps it makes sense, then, for God’s Servant to enter into the dark rhythms of the human condition; perhaps it’s the only way they can be challenged and undone, once and for all.

– Br. David Vryhof

Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Shakespeare noted in As You Like It,  that “All the world’s a stage, and all men and women are merely players.” Holy Week is not past events, but is a dynamic play in the chaos of our lives. Life is unpredictable, Eucharist and betrayals are common.  Our imagination is a gift that helps us to create the anticipation of Easter Sunday.

Our picture is entitled: “Stations of the Cross: LGBTQ Struggle for Equality,” we see the continued struggle of the LGBTQ community to find equality and acceptance. Our photo of “Jo Jo” shows her continued struggle for equality as a Transgender person. The Stations of the Cross continues on our city streets, in our ghettos, in our rural areas where poverty and discrimination are  rampant. The Stations of the Cross continues through out the world where there is war and poverty and discrimination.  Like it or not our lives are chaotic, we try to bring order, but chaos surrounds us. We can try to hide, but ultimately we can never hide. I was out on Polk this morning and 36 year old Sam approached me simply out of his mind, angry. He comes from a good family, hooked on drugs, and his family has done everything; 50 year old Jim asking how to get rid of the birds on the room of his room–thinks if they are gone the “demons” in his head will be gone.  We can run, but we can not hide.

It is in love of one another, and  of our forgiveness of each other  that Easter comes forth. There is a young guy who was hanging out with me, and a person who knew me, said, “Is it he not the one that stabbed you last year?” And Jamie said, “Oh yea, but he forgave me.”  And I did, but it was difficult. We must forgive in order to find wholeness in our lives. The story of Easter is the story of forgiveness and love. It is the story of a God who loves us despite ourselves, who forgives us. The call of Easter is to bring Easter to other people.

The call of Easter is to feed the hungry, forgive those who have wrong you, to provide housing for those without, to comfort the dying, to love each other for their humanity–not because of race, gender, sexual orientation or their economic status. Easter comes as each one of us loves and forgives. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


An Invitation to Paradise

April 9, 2017
 Father River

Monday, April 11, 2017

The Invitation to Come Alive!

John 12:1-11

Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” These words echo the second word of Jesus on the cross to the thief: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

Paradise is more than being in a place where you will be served by beautiful women or men, Paradise for Jesus is entering into his way of life–of loving our neighbor as ourselves, and of bringing the reign of God to earth. The thief recognized Jesus as the One who brings healing and wholeness.

In my own life what makes me come alive, even when I am in pain, is the giving of myself to another person.  People often criticize me for giving money without asking what it is going to be used for, giving  nice clothes, and other items, after all “you should keep those for yourself,” but like the woman I am giving this to Jesus–and for me that is what is important. I come alive in the sharing. I will be really alive tomorrow morning early when I take one young guy to get his State ID, another to work on getting his social security, and so on. This is Paradise for me.

And the question I asked any one is: “What brings you into Paradise here on earth?”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




Death With Dignity

April 9, 2017

Read the rest of this entry »

The Feral One’s

April 8, 2017

Jesus the Homeless



“Journeys are not hard when they are fulfillment of hopes.”

Ezekiel 37:21-28; John 11:45-56

Chris is 22 and comes from a good family in southern California.  He has been on the streets for six years, and one social worker described him as “feral”–wild–unable to fit into the system.

We sat in McDonald’s early yesterday morning.  He insisted on buying me coffee. We talked about where he camped, where his tent was located, and  his computer. He commented that “Money sucks, it seeks to control people. People want to make so much money they forget about every one else. Jobs and apartments take you away from people. Money makes people go to war and destroy the environment.”  My thoughts were the words of another Feral One–“The root of evil is money.”

Chris will not fit into the system, I do not fit into the system, I am on the edge, using it to support my ministry. Besides I do not want to live in a tent in the Park.  Chris reminds me of the people in the past who farmed small pieces of land, sold crafts, and lived simply. Kids in the park sell their crafts, I have many on my desk, and wall. The City charges large license fees for shows–so they sneak around and do it. They sell them illegal. And when marijuana becomes truly legal, they will still be illegal while the large companies make a fortune. The system is not fair. It is all about money.

This Lent I see my life as a journey that is “the fulfillment of hope,” in that in its ups and downs I give myself away.  When people asked me if I have any regrets–I have none.  Presently Chris has no regrets. 

Lent calls us to walk with people where they are–not to judge by using labels like “feral”, and just be with people. We are called to asked ourselves “How do we use our money–does it control us–what would happen if we gave away all accept what we need?”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


Adoration Economy

April 7, 2017

318 words


Jeremiah 20:10-13; John 10:31-42

Jesus and Jeremiah were both threatened and both hurt by their focus on God’s love for humanity.  What they teach us is that were we pay attention, we lend our power. What we focus on gives power to our lives.

This is a time of enthusiasms, of all-absorbing demands on our attention.  From whatever direction we look, it is an especially hard moment to keep our eyes on the center, on the God of love, the body of the Criminal; but for us to have decent politics we must.

Decent politics can be found in the Great Commandment of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” 

Several weeks ago an older woman came up to me at our Vigil Against the Death Penalty, angry, for her son and his wife were murdered, and the man was on death row. She wanted him dead. For two hours I sat with her, and we talked, and I prayed with her. She may never change her mind, but she did hear that I cared, and we parted with a hug. Decent politics is for us to meet each other whether we agree or not, and talk, and in that talking come to an understanding of love.

Let us participate in the Adoration Economy of God–and find our center in the love of God and our neighbor.

Come join me tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017 at 12 Noon at the Earl Warren Supreme Court Building where we will Vigil Against the Death Penalty. In walking and talking we will remember the greatest Criminal in the world who hung on the cross with his arms outstretched in love. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

Temenos Catholic Worker