Peniel August

July 30, 2018


August, 2018

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Growing up in the South, the dog days of August were very real. The weather was hot, humid, we stayed around the house most of the day until the sun set. We drank a lot of ice tea, ate a lot of watermelon, and barbecued. They were days of reflection, and of looking ahead to the coming year.

In reflecting this year during this time I think of our countries psyche  and  my own life.  For me I have discovered within my life, and with  what is  happening  in the greater world similarities.

 I have discovered that my own desire to connect can sometimes become an inordinate attachment to receiving praise, love, and acceptance from others. I often struggle with sacrificing integrity and authenticity to orchestrate attachment to others. There is a phrase from the Henry Rollins album, “weight”, which says: “Loneliness will make you throw your sins away.”

Loneliness eats at our very souls, and I have found I will throw away everything to have a friend, and always it is in vain. The same in our country, we are so afraid we are going to lose the  freedoms and rights we have gained, that we “throw our sins away,” losing our sense of respect for the dialogue of other people who differ from us.

Doing these dog days of August I am listening to the Spirit, and am being reminded  not to fear, to respond in truth and love and to trust. And that is my prayer for others—do not fear, respond in truth and love, and trust each other. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Weekly Meals:

It has become apparent that personally I will not be able to prepare weekly meals alone.  We are asking for volunteers who will put in 4-5  hours a week to package and help serve the meals on the street. Thank you.

We now have two new interns, they are Cale King and Aaron Olaya, Juniors in High School from San Rafael, CA. Both are passionate and caring about people, and find working with us rewarding.

​                                                                                       Aaron                                                                       Cale

 Aaron and Cale.png

Death Penalty Protest:

September 5, Noon-1:00 p.m. we will begin our weekly Death Penalty Protest.  The Death Penalty is in humane, and makes of all of us murderers. Come join us!

We Are Beggars!

Our finances are very low. We are in need of socks, we are in need of money for food, and so we beg, for your support. We continue to minister to 500 plus young people a month through our pastoral care, socks, food, and needle exchange. And so as you reflect during these dog days we pray you will remember us. Please give:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Pay Pal at

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Journey on the Edge

January 8, 2022

A Journey on the Edge!

Reflections Given to High School Students!

My name is River, I am a priest, our non-profit is Temenos Catholic Worker,  and my information is on the handout you have been given.

I started literally by moving into my apartment on Polk Street, and handing out food, becoming friends with the young adults on the street. At the time on Polk, they were young homeless prostitutes, and today it is older homeless people, using drugs; on the Haight, they are all young homeless youth, from broken homes, homes where they are not wanted, many born of homeless parents, others simply for the freedom of not being told what to do. They mainly smoke dro, acid, and LSD. In the summer we have what is called “summer punks,” they come from home or college, simply to be free and at the end of the summer return to their lives.  They are out there for a million reasons.

My work is being on the streets and simply being a listener, without judgment, without expectations of my friends; I am their friend, whom they can come to when they are sick, depressed, or just simply to hang out.

Carl Rogers once said: “I don’t try to control the sunset, I watch with awe as it unfolds. ” He also said; “The good life is a process, not a state of being, it is a direction, not a destination.”  For many, it is a good life. For others, it is the best life they can have.

On New Year’s Eve, I attended a party in Marin on the beach with a bond fire, and all the trimmings of what high school, college students love doing, many are my friends.  Their problems, and their actions–smoking pot, drinking, etc, are no different than the guys on the street, they simply have places to live and families who care for them. They are simply adolescents, young adults on their journies.

Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank, race, creed, color, religious background, but simply by inner peace, and never giving up through hell or high water.

What works for me, what is effective for me is to be a listening ear, a good friend, walking with each one on their journey, and seeing where it leads.

In each person–the gang banger, murderer, thief, and all I look in their eyes and can see the beauty, that is present, and see the broken body of Christ.

And if someone tells me how to live my life, and I have a hunch if I or someone else told you, you would tell them like I do, to “rub their di..k’s with sandpaper.”

I came here with nothing, and when I die will leave here with nothing, and in between, I beg and sometimes work to do the joy of this work. I  journey on the edge.

My invitation to you is to see the beauty and goodness within yourselves and share that beauty, that goodness with others, and you will see the world change. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


snap chat: riodamien2


Please feel free to contact me at any time.

 Volunteers are welcome if they have vaccination and booster.;

Good Friday, 2022, Stations of the Cross through the Tenderloin, with participants being housed and unhoused youth, if you are interested, give me a call;

San Francisco LGBTQ Pride, June 22-23 We host the area where older, and people with disabilities sit, Good view of events. Pay: $20.00 an hour.


Haight Street Christmas 2021

Haight Thanksgiving, 2021

Book Review: The Whole Thing by Jason English

January 6, 2022

A Book Review and Reflections on The Whole Thing by Jason English!

The Bible is often explained with an overwhelming emphasis on the brokenness of the world. This is an attempt to teach the story of the entire Bible in a way that is simple, fresh, and memorable, showing how the story isn’t about brokenness, but wholeness. This book is not about brokenness but wholeness. The book does not explain everything, it explains the whole things

Love is a word so misunderstood, for love is simply not about a “feeling”, but about caring for our brothers and sisters; love is about recognizing every human being and every part of creation as made by God, each part deserves love; love is about seeing no race, creed, color or religion, but only the face of God in each human being we meet.

The message of Jesus is about reconciliation–not division–it is about unity, not disunity.  It is not about a place in the “hereafter”, but about NOW, working for the Reign of God, the reign of love NOW!  It is about giving our lives for one another.

I was asked one day by a young high school student, “What can I do to get rid of homelessness?” My reply: “You see the person sitting in the doorway–go feed him!

The Whole Thing is a narrative that invites us to delve more deeply into the Bible and to see it as a story of the human race that continues, and that our hope is in the redeeming love of Jesus.


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.MIn., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Play of Love

January 6, 2022

The Play of Love!


 1 Jn 4:11-18

Beloved, if God so loved us,

we also must love one another.

No one has ever seen God.

Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,

and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,

that he has given us of his Spirit.

Moreover, we have seen and testify

that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.

Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,

God remains in him and he in God.

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

In this is love brought to perfection among us,

that we have confidence on the day of judgment

because as he is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love,

but perfect love drives out fear

because fear has to do with punishment,

and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.


“If  music  be the play of love–play on!” These are the romantic words beginning Shakespeares’ romantic comedy, Twelfth Night.

As the play’s title suggests Shakespeare wrote this heartwarming tale to celebrate the close of the twelve days of Christmas–January 5, the eve of Epiphany.

As we bring Christmastide to a close what better way to end, what better theme is there to reflect on than love.

As the words from first John, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him,” seems more elevated than mere music, or theatre, it is worth remembering that genuine love from the humblest human desire to the noblest act of sacrifice, flows from the very heart of God.

Love is a word so misunderstood, for love is simply not about a “feeling”, but about caring for our brothers and sisters; love is about recognizing every human being and every part of creation as made by God, each part deserves love; love is about seeing no race, creed, color or religion, but only the face of God in each human being we meet.

The message of Jesus is about reconciliation–not division–it is about unity, not disunity.  It is not about a place in the “hereafter”, but about NOW, working for the Reign of God, the reign of love NOW!  It is about giving our lives for one another.

I was asked one day by a young high school student, “What can I do to get rid of homelessness?” My reply: “You see the person sitting in the doorway–go feed him!


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.MIn., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Reverends Sherman and Lorraine Skinner have given a gift to Temenos Catholic Worker in memory of their sister, Sarah Townsen Skinner, who had a real heart for the homeless but was killed in an auto accident ten years ago at the age of sixty. .

Reflection on Unthinkable Dreams

January 3, 2022

Reflections on Unthinkable Dreams

The Year That Mom Died and the Towers Fell

By Yeshaya Douglas Ballon

This book is a reflection by Yeshaya Douglas Ballon on the period surrounding his mom’s death, Jean Hymson Ballon,  September 11, 2001, the year of the Terrorist Attacks in New York City.

He describes his mom as a strong woman, a rabbis wife, her loyalty to her family, and to the ministry of her husband. Ballon reflects on her strengths and her weaknesses, and her influence on him and his brothers.

Ballon in essence concludes with the realization that his mother was a mixture, like we all are, of good and bad. Mrs. Ballon loved him, and essentially gave him the landscape of his life, which it was his responsibility to shape.

Ballon concludes how through his life he came to forgive his mom, for those things for which he felt she was responsible but concludes she was simply a human being, doing her best, and he shaped her guidance into his path.

Ballon describes our journeys with our mothers. For me, my mom loved me more than her own life. And several memories are vivid.

At four years old we were in a store, and someone taking a dress off the hanger, hooked me in my mouth, and as I bled my mom rushed me to the hospital, mothering me like a mother hen;

The final memory was when I was in the hospital, and she knew she was dying insisted on being brought to see me, and her comment was: “I know all is well with you, I have not failed.”

My mom was a mixture of the good and the bad, and through the years I resented, and at times hated her, and through facing those feelings, came to truly love and respect the gifts given to me.

Dr. Ballon concluded by giving a quote by his mom, that summarized  our journies: “The unshakable dream–you have to dream it yourself.”

It is that quote that summarizes my mom’s key teaching: To follow my own dream, to walk alone if necessary, to take whatever risk, and in so doing one’s life is fulfilled. My mom, Virgil Sims Smith, once said to me: “Find something  you love doing, and you will never work again.” That is exactly what have done. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Reflections on the Divine Dance In the New Year!

December 31, 2021

Reflections on the Divine Dance in the New Year!

“The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God!

January 1, 2022

Based on Fr. Richard Rhor’s book The Divine Dance

The Trinity and your Transformation  with Mike Morrell

“But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law–to free those under law, so we might receive adoption as sons and daughters. Now because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Ruach of His Son into our hearts, who cries out, “Abba Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter–an if a son or daughter also an heir through God!” Galatians4:4-7 Tree of Life Version


As we enter a New Year we need to remind ourselves that “Instead of God being the Eternal Threatener, we have God as the Ultimate Participant–in everything–both good and the painful,”

And in reminding ourselves of God as the “Ultimate Participant,” we hear the words of Rainer Maria Rike “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

Our religious culture has been so permeated with a hierarchal nature of God used to control, and manipulate humanity, that we have lost sight of the God Meister  Eckhart proclaimed in the fourteenth century:

“Do you want to know

what goes on in the core of the Trinity?

I will tell you.

In the core of the Trinity

the Father laughs

and gives birth to the Son.

The Son laughs back at the Father

and gives birth to the Spirit.

The whole Trinity laughs

and gives birth to us.”

God has done only one constant thing since the beginning of time: God has forever loved and without hesitation. In the Son, he came into the material world, and even in rejection his love remained steadfast, and through the Holy Spirit God walks with us.

As she lay dying, St. Clare of Assisi is reported to have said, “Thank you God for allowing me to be a human being.”

My one lesson from working with homeless street youth, and adults is that they are always grateful for their lives.  And through my own pain, and depression at times, I too like Clare pray: “Thank you God for allowing me to be a human being.”

So as we enter the New Year let us thank God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that we have been allowed to dance, the dance of life this past year, and as we dance into 2022, may we be empowered by the prayer of Fr. Richard Rhor:

God for us, we call you Father.

God alongside us, we call you Jesus.

God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.

You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things.

Even us and even me.

Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.

We can only see who you are in what is.

We ask for such perfect seeing–

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.


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

P.O. Box 64256

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Feast of Holy Innocence!

December 28, 2021

The Feast of the Holy Innocents!

December 28, 2021

Continuing on the Streets!

“Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi he was furious. And he sent and killed all the boys in Bethlehem, and in all the surrounding area, from two years old and under. .” Matthew 2:16 (Tree of Life Version)

In the Gospel account, the writer invokes a passage from the prophet Jeremiah, recalling the inconsolable Rachel weeping for her children, a reference to Israel being carried away into exile seven generations prior to the birth of Jesus. Across the generations, life and death are so intimately connected.

The suffering of the innocent children in Bethlehem is not far removed from the suffering of starving children today, or children separated from their families, or children who die in violence, or children who never see the light of day, or the homeless young and old, like the one’s above, who are on the streets of San Francisco, and all our cities.

The innocent children represent all of the “nobodies” of the world, who are thrown away, as the powerful gain their power and riches; they are the innocent ones who are packed down so that the one-percenters can rise and receive their billions.

Violence would not magically disappear in the coming of Jesus, but the Gospel writer knew Jesus’s very presence in the midst of it will ultimately transform the world into the reign of God, where all shall be fed, clothed, loved, housed, and where all are equal.

We are called to be the very presence of Christ in the world, we are called to transform the world into the Reign of God!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

The Place Where We Belong

December 27, 2021


Feast of the Holy Family
41Luke 2:41-52: Now His parents were going every year to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. 42When He became twelve years old, they were going up according to festival custom. 43As they headed home after completing the days, the boy Yeshua remained in Jerusalem, but His parents didn’t know. 44Supposing He was in the caravan, they went a day’s journey, then began looking for Him among relatives and friends. 45When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. 46After three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the center of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all those hearing Him were astonished at His understanding and His answers. 48When His parents saw Yeshua, they were overwhelmed. And His mother said to Him, “Child, why did you do this to us? Look! Your father and I were searching for You frantically!” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be about the things of My Father?” 50But they did not grasp the message He was telling them. 51Then He went down with them to Natzeret and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these words in her heart. 52And Yeshua kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
This has been an awesome Christmas! For I am in the place I truly belong!

I came home last night and laid down at 8:00 p.m. and did not wake up until 3:00 p.m. today. I was exhausted, from being up most of the night listening to kids, and being on the street. To me, it was simply being with “family.”  The guys on the street are my “family,”  And I am “family” to them.

We are all “family.” Jesus calls us to move out of our “tribes” and be family to everyone. I have biological family, and we talk occasionally, but when I have been ill, in the hospital, and when I die, they will not be there, my real family is my friends whom I know, and trust, not “blood”.  They are my family.

On the Haight yesterday as gifts were given, tears spattered on faces, many told me “this is the only gift I have been given,” one young guy threatening suicide Friday night, said his family would not even take his phone calls, he is 15 years old.

In my years here, I have seen very few Mexican or Asian kids on the street, for they are taken care of by their communities. I have a young friend in the Mexican community who took care of me when I was first hurt. These two ethnic groups know how to be family.

I challenge everyone to take off their blinders, let go of their fear, and be family to people who truly are in need–homeless, those threatened of losing their homes, people who live alone–be the Holy Family. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 64264

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Gift of Tenderness

December 22, 2021

The Gift of Tenderness!

Luke 2:1-14


As our local police obey our Mayor’s orders to “clean up the Tenderloin,” “to rid the City of the darkness of drug use and stealing,” I hear in the back of my mind, the horses of the soldiers of the Roman Empire running through the roads of the Holy Land, maintaining law and order.

As the Romans wore armored gear, so do our officers today, moving through Union Square. They will move people out, especially the homeless, poor, and black and brown individuals.

There was really nothing pretty about the first  Christmas, no candy canes, snowmen, Christmas trees, ham, and turkey dinners, all lit up and beautiful.

What we have is Joseph breaking the law, knowing what he should do with an “adulterous woman”, is giving her over to the local priests, and he does not divorce Mary as the Law clearly tells him to do, even though he has no direct way of knowing that Mary is a Virgin, blessed by God. Last year I had two young ladies tell me they were virgins and the babies they were having were from God, I never told either, but I did not believe either one, I am such a skeptic.

And so on this Christmas, in the midst of such discord, a baby comes into the world, and we are invited to hold him, letting his tenderness embrace, and move through our bodies and souls.

As we breathe the aroma of his breath let us embrace his tenderness, letting it soften our minds, our hearts, our souls. Let it enter into our very being, moving us to embrace others with the love that has no end.

Tenderness, its gentleness, and kindness, come from holding the baby Jesus, and our eyes no longer judge, and we enter into the vulnerability and fragility of others.

Let us this Christmas remember this tenderness as we embrace the homeless, the wounded, the handicapped, the blind, the dirty, and the dying, and truly care for others. Let us become tenderness!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each One of You!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Volunteers: Because of the new variant of the virus now exploding we will not use volunteers this year!

December 20, 2021

Our Lady of Tenderness!

The Darkness of Loneliness

Today there was a mental health professional talking about the affects of the pandemic, and he commented: “Mental illness is increasing, largely as a result of loneliness and isolation.”

Loneliness is resulting from a sense of being isolated from others, being with a sense of no contact with a fellow human being, but what is becoming more and more obvious is the effects of our cell phones, social media, texting and the playing of games on the phone. These have isolated us, put a hole in our care for on another.

In the last two weeks I have hung out with a number of adults both young, and middle aged, and those in their second youth. Only one person sat through a meal and talked.

The others were texting, playing games, checking their emails etc. With several I would say something crazy, and lol, each one would say, “Oh great!” They did not hear me.

In this failing to listen we are creating a sense of loneliness that leads to mental illness. Mental illness, outside of the biological types, is largely created through loneliness and isolation.

            Several months ago I tried an experiment. On the corner of Polk and Bush, I laid down, faking a heart attack. In the thirty minutes lying there, people passed by in a hurry, the majority talking or texting on their phones, and not one person saw me. Sad, but true-and that is why I always carry a life alert.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “All we have to fear is fear itself,” we are so afraid of each other, and in that fear we are hurting ourselves and others.

Jesus has one requirement,that we “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

Let us put our phones and games away, come out of our self-made isolation and care for others, simply to listen without judgment, and with tenderness, which brings us to wholeness. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

In His Will Is Our Peace!

December 18, 2021




Bo John reminds us:”Only by not forgetting the past can we be the master of our future,” for in remembering the past we can bring change to our lives by not repeating the same mistakes. And oh how we repeat those mistakes!

In the last week, our Mayor announced she is sending more police into the Tenderloin to eliminate, the “rough criminal element,” to make it safer for our tax-paying citizens. A repeat act of every Mayor in the past, and an end to police reform.

The illustration of Our Lady of Guadalupe above reminds me that in the chaos of police actions she stands with her arms around those who are arrested and harassed. Our Lady, also reminds us, that the human condition has always remained and will always remain the same: FALLEN–one of the central claims of Christianity.

Human beings, being created in the image and likeness of God, and capable of immense good, are plagued by original sin. We can be and are the cruelest of all creatures.

Christmas is about God entering this world in the form of a vulnerable baby, to grow, and live in the world, to experience firsthand the cruelty of humanity.

In so doing Jesus, also saw the capability of humanity to be loving and caring, and he loved us.

He loved us so much he went to the cross, calling us to follow him in redeeming the world. In his resurrection, Christ affirmed that he remains with us in our struggles and ultimately all will be redeemed.

Dorothy Day provides us with an example of how to live in a fallen world, a world of conflict, pain, and death.

It was through her deep understanding of her own nature, and by creating space for her interior life to grow that Dorothy was able to give her entire life to the poor.

Dorothy was unable to be paralyzed by distressing events in the world because she was on a mission for Christ, that was undoubtedly fostered by a deep interior peace. She was free. She calls us to pray often, receive the Sacraments regularly, and simply work little by little.

Dorothy summons us to:

“Turn off your radio. Put away your daily paper. Read one review of events a week and spend some time reading good books. They tell too of days of striving and of strife. They are of other centuries and also of our own. They make us realize that all times are perilous, that men live in a dangerous world, in peril constantly of losing or maiming soul and body. We get some sense of perspective reading such books. Renewed courage and faith and even joy to live.

My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.

If you are rushed for time, sow time and you will reap time. Go to church and spend a quiet hour in prayer. You will have more time than ever and your work will get done.”

– Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164