Peniel–June 2016 Pride Month

May 25, 2016

JUNE 2016



P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, Director/Pastor, D.S.T., candidate for D.Min.



There are two gifts that I have received which I treasure.  First is a clergy stole given me at my ordination to the priesthood by an Anglican bishop. It is a rainbow stole made out of the quilts of men who had died of AIDS.  He was in the closet and when he placed the stole around my neck, he said, “You will carry the Gospel with the courage I have never had, and I give thanks to God for this moment.” There was a mixture of sadness and joy in his eyes, for he was a man who suffered in silence. He left the ministry at his retirement, and the church, and found a partner, and came out.  He was seventy years old.

The second is a small New Testament given to me by a woman who died in her nineties. One day, while I was visiting with her, she broke down in tears and shared how she “liked women,” but because of the times and her religious affiliation she had struggled with the guilt and never told anyone.  Jane shared her loneliness, and the hate she felt towards herself through the years. She was a great and devoted woman, but Jane was never allowed to be fully herself. She suffered much, she suffered long, and never felt completely whole.

Pride month is a big party in San Francisco, but we see young men and women coming to our City because of its openness and their own oppression at home.  Pride is a time to celebrate who we are, and to celebrate that being a human being is not about race, creed, color of skin, or sexual orientation, but how we treat others, pure and simple.  We are human beings created in the image of God, are called to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” Pride is about  celebrating our differences as gifts from God.

Pride is the month we celebrate the Exodus to Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender/ and Questioning people into the freedom of being who they are, into the light of being fully human.

For the past six years, the Reverend Dana Corsello has worn our rainbow stole during the worship service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, celebrating the Exodus of Queers into the promised land of freedom and acceptance. The wearing of that stole symbolizes a church with arms open for all.

Pride Month is an announcement to all the world that the “Janes,” Bishop Angus, and all people who suffer in the closet are free to be who they are, and that that freedom comes in God.  Happy Pride! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Each year, Temenos is in charge of the Accessibility Area, and works with the Accessibility Area on the Parade site. We need volunteers. And so if you would like to volunteer on Saturday, in the afternoon, to work the Accessibility Area or on Sunday to work either the Accessibility Area or the Parade site, please contact Fr.River at 415-305-2124. It is a fun time, an awesome time!



We are beggars. Like St. Francis we depend on the love and care of others.  We do not accept grants, but live on the graciousness and love of others to provide for our support in serving food to 2000 a month, giving out ten thousand pairs of socks, providing pastoral care to 300.  We open our hearts to you.  You may send support to:

Old Photos

May 22, 2016



“We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” Romans 5:4.

Today is the anniversary of Harvey Milk’s assassination, my mother’s death, and tomorrow, Zach’s death.

As we sit here we  look around our  room and every where there are photos, old, and new.  Photos of the saints who have guided us-Damien, St. Francis, Harvey Milk, St. Ignatius, Dorothy Day; our mom, our dad, Zach, River and people who were our  friends and have joined that great communion of saints; there are photos of our closest friends who have walked with us through the years: Keenan, Kevin and Vicki, Marilyn, Eli, Matt, Miles, Robbie, Kyle and finally there are the photos of the youth who have been on this journey with us for over twenty years now, some now  in the great communion of saints, others living.

These photos communicate to me the living reality of a life  lived as priest, and  one as a  friend first of all. A life that has been well lived, and one that always travels the road less traveled. For us  it has not been a life of hardship,  but one of walking through the difficulties of life. One of always finding hope in Christ.

All of our lives are difficult–We have not yet to meet a person’s whose life is not–and it is in working and living with those difficulties that we find much joy in life.

As we  view these photos we know stories of all kinds of abuse, pain, fear, you name it, it is in these photos, but at the heart of every photo is the person who is worth every ounce of love that can be given, every sacrifice that can be made, for in each one we have found that divine spark. That part of each of us that is the image of God. When we are asked how we can stand to see so much suffering,there is only one answer– they  are our friends,  and in them the image of God shines, and we journey with our friends in season and out of season.

And so today as we stand in reflection and sadness we stand in joy with the words of Paul shouting from our lips:

“We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” Romans 5:4.

Come Lord Jesus! Come! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T.; D.Min. Candidate, Knox Theological Seminary

Like A Child

May 21, 2016


St. Christopher Magallanes     Mark 10:13-16

“Truly I tell you whoever does not receive the kingdom as a little child will never enter it. (verse 15)

We are    always being asked, “What can be done about homelessness?” For us  the solution can be found in the way the “children” around us  deal with it. Every week for the past six weeks one fifteen year old who hangs out with us gives of his last dollar to provide for Haight Street youth.  Haight Street youth are always giving of what they have to help each other. When we were  taken to the hospital last summer after being stabbed two Haight Street youth sat with us through the night; when we were sick one slept on our floor.  When we  were in the hospital three weeks ago it was one young adult who stayed with us. When we become like children we are open to the needs of others. We give equally and gladly.

Today we noticed in a real estate window a list of apartments–the prices shocked us, stunned us.  No one can rent these places without making a fortune.  The  response we hear is  no response, or if you do not have the money move on.  If we became like children we would share of what we have, so that others might have. Our churches would not stand vacant at night, but would provide housing, as well as our  office buildings, and people would be fed.  Hospitality would be provided through out the City.

The only system that will change our “homeless problem” is a  change of heart, a change in which we open our lives as little children to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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


May 20, 2016


We are always being asked about our faith, and as we listen we perceive the questions are about their journey, and also about what makes us tick.  Most want a logical answer, and we can not explain our faith in a logical manner.

For our faith in Christ comes from our experience.  As a young boy we experienced this strange warmness of the heart, and from that moment our life was turned upside down–we knew we were called to ministry. We were driven to ministry.  No logical explanation. Our  father had a business that did well, it was ours , but we turned away from it.

The deaths of my parents, and my brother drove me into looking at faith, and it sustained me through depression and through finishing seminary and ordination.

Than came the years of being kicked out of the church, prostitution, and our faith held us together; and than our years of ministry in San Francisco, great years, awesome years, words can not express how wonderful they are–but years of living on the edge, not knowing where our next dollar is going to come from. getting malaria, the attempts on our life, the continuing threats on our life,  constant criticism, and it has been faith that sustains us, and gives us hope.

For in faith Jesus is real, very real to us, he brings joy in the midst of pain, fear, and doubt. Faith for us is never logical, never in our head, it is in our heart.  Our faith is about being on the River on Fire, with living a life full of the Spirit.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!River On Fire

Giving A Cup of Cold Water

May 19, 2016


“Why anyone by just giving a cup of cold water in my name in on our side. Count on it that God will notice.”Mark 9:42

St. Alcuin said that we should “Remember to care for the soul more than the body since the former remains, the latter perishes.

Last night outside of Safeway we met a young guy.  Someone had stolen his money, and we gave him three dollars and our card, and went on our way to our meeting.  We simply listened, spent some time with him, and gave him what we had.  In those moments we were treating him with respect and and naming him by our acknowledgment.  We gave him a cup of cold water.

In giving each person a cup of cold water we care for their soul, we give them an acknowledgement of their humanity, and we show in those moments love that rekindles hope in living.

Giving a cup of cold water is acknowledging a person’s existence, that they matter, that they are  care cared for, and that we care.  And in doing that we care for the soul. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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


River on Fire

May 10, 2016



Ernest Hemingway tells us that “to be fully human means to take risks.”  Life is about taking risks, it is in the risks where we grow, where we gain strength, where we truly burn off our ego and embrace life and all living creatures with compassion.

Our culture seeks success in terms of financial gain, in terms of results, and the reality is when we  seek such success means we leave the most vulnerable people behind. We leave ourselves behind. We leave our humanity behind.

Risking means to walk with people, it means to put our lives on the line.  It means to give our all for the greater good of others. That is the call of Jesus. Risking means to put our egos aside and follow Christ into the hinder lands of life.

Damien said: “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all for Christ.”  A statement that sends chills down our spines because we know he has leprosy and will suffer much.

When we became a member of the Order of Christian Workers a long time ago we were given the religious name “Damien” after Damien of Molokai.  It has since become our legal name, and we wear it knowing it reminds us that we are called to be “different.” That we are called to become a street kid in the way we relate and live. We take risks, and in taking those risks we suffer but we become more fully human.

The River of Fire in the photo for us symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we approach Pentecost let us invite that River of Fire into our lives, invite the River of Fire to engulf us and to push us to take risks for the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised, those who hurt the most.  Let us enter into the River of Fire. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, Director/Pa

Living on the Edge

May 7, 2016


“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”Rev. 22:13

Today Fr. Dan Berigan was buried, the world is a little less friendly with out his presence.

This month I have eliminated basically all dinner and luncheon engagements because I am putting the time into my dissertation. What I have noticed is that what one of my friends tells me is true, “You talk and act like a kid and you have more kid friends than adults.”  I laugh about it, but what I notice is unless I set up lunch or dinner engagements I see no adults. Their lives are busy, and my life is lived at odd hours, and odd places. We just do not move in the same circles.

The times I have been  in the hospital or sick, it is my younger friends who seem to be there. The other night in the hospital I talked to a couple of people on the phone, and one came and  picked me up, but it was my younger friends who sat with me during that time; when I was sick last summer, the same way. So I guess I do hang out with “kids” more than I do with adults. To me they are my friends, just people, people who care.

This month is also a month of memories. Zach died fifteen years ago, my brother was killed this month, and my mom and dad died. There is sadness, yet for me it is simply a part of life. I conducted a memorial service for two of my street guys Wednesday, and I reflected on how death is a part of life, we all will die, but there is much joy in the resurrection.  That is where I find hope, and strength. When the Angel of Death flutters around me has she has two weeks ago, I know that “all things work together for good for those who love God.”  Death is never easy, facing the fear of death is not easy, and seeing death is not easy, that is why the resurrection is so important.

Thirdly, Lady Gaga says “If you’re not pissing somebody off, you’re not doing your job.” In writing this dissertation I am finding that I am seeing myself for who I am–I am a trouble maker, I am difficult, and I do piss people off.  The truth is that is the most likable part of me, it is when I am most real.

Jesus makes life good, and for that let us be thankful. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




April 29, 2016


John 15:12-17

I just came home from the hospital.  “Sean” who is 19 called me at 1 a.m., he had had a bad trip on LSD or it’s equivalent. We had just met yesterday on the Haight. He said: “I knew the moment we talked we were friends, and I could call you if I got into trouble.”

That is what friendship is about, “laying down our lives for our friends” being willing to go the extra mile. Friendship is about being able to relax, being silent, and simply being with someone without expectations. Friendship is about walking with people where they are. Friendship is not about knowing someone forever, it is about loving the person before us, equally, and with respect.

Monika Hellwig wrote: “The Ignatian approach to spirituality says that the traditional Christian doctrine of original sin is not a message of doom is but one of hope.  It declares that the world as we have it is not the best we can hope for, not the world that God intends, but a badly broken and distorted one which can be restored.”

That restoration comes as we treat each other regardless of color, creed, religious expression, and sexual orientation equally, and as we start sharing of our wealth equally. 

That restoration comes as we start sharing of ourselves to others. It is also a respect of the wishes of people, for example most of the young guys I hang out with are simply traveling, so we respect their choice, not push our own expectations on them. We do not expect them to get housing, to do anything, but be themselves.  They choose their way of life, as we choose ours.

Let us look at being friends to people, to meeting them where they are, to looking them in the eyes, and in sharing our love of Christ in our actions to truly be friends. St. Frances said:”Preach the Gospel, using as few as words as possible.” 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, DST, D.Min. Candidate


Love One Another

April 28, 2016


John 15:9-11

“I‘ve love you the way my Father/Mother has loved me.  Make yourselves at home in my love.  That’s what I’ve done–kept my Father’s/Mother’s commands and made myself at home in his love.  . . .This is my command: Love one another the way I have loved you. This is the best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you, I am n o longer calling you servants.  I am calling you friends.”

Yesterday at 9:54 p.m. in the state of Georgia Danial Anthony Lucas was executed by lethal injection. He was 19 when he murdered Steven, Bryan, and Kristin Moss, during a burglary. We remember all four of them on this day

Danial was 19 years old, from a troubled family, his brain had not matured.  He should not have died.  He should have been given life in prison without parole, but not death.

Nearly fifteen years ago my son was murdered. The depression, the pain I went through, and still go through, is the most horrible pain one can endure. It is something you never get over.  But I remember the night I stood at the death bed of the man who had killed him, and saw in his eyes his on fright at dying and at seeing me, the priest he called, and I knew in those moments as I gave him the Sacrament of Reconciliation that forgiveness and letting go are the only cure for the pain we feel. I held his hand as he died, and we were both at peace. Pain never really goes away, but in the healing of the  scarred pieces of wood that are our lives there are results which  bring much healing to others. You find peace, and acceptance.

As we approach May, the anniversary month of Zach’s death, as the memories flow, and pain rises again,  I am so relieved I had those moments with Dave, that was the greatest blessing I have ever received. For desiring to take a life diminishes us. Giving forgiveness is giving life and it is freeing, the greatest freedom one can ever experience.

  John Donne expressed it best of all:

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne.

For when we desire a life to be taken and  rejoice in the taking of a life, we lose a part of our humanity, a part of that which is the life giving spirit within us. Only in giving life, only in forgiving, and letting go, do we truly become human. Do we truly grow.

Today we pray the Office of the Dead in memory of Danial, Steven, Bryan and Kristin.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker\

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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

Road Stops On the Road to Peace

April 26, 2016


Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31

Gerardi Bishop and Martyr 1922-98

“Years of terror and death reduced the majority of Guatemalans to fear and silence. Truth is the primary word that makes it possible for us to break this cycle of death and violence and to open ourselves to a future of hope and light for all.

After delivering a report on the findings of research on violence in Guatemala Bishop Gerardi was beaten to death by soldiers.  He sought peace all of his life. He found peace in Christ, but violence surrounded him. Because of the the peace of Christ within him he was able to stand with his people for justice.

It is the peace of Christ that enables us to stand for the homeless, the voiceless, those who do violence and experience violence. I remember the peace I felt when I gave the final rights to the man who killed the person who meant most to me in the world–there was a peace I had never experienced before, because forgiveness brings a us into right relationship with God. It is only in giving that we receive.

The following quote about vegetarianism is one that sums it up–when we kill any living thing, when we eat any living animal, and treat it like it is an object to be used  for in doing so we disturb the peace. We need to start looking at how we live our daily lives in context of the small things that we do every day, and from there asked ourselves the question: “Are we at peace?” and “What do we do to contribute to the peace around us?”  In Christ we find peace, and from that peace we can move out bringing peace in our daily lives.

“We need never look for universal peace on this earth until men stop killing animals for food. The lust for blood has permeated the race thought and the destruction of life will continue to repeat its psychology, the world round, until men willingly observe the law in all phases of life, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
~ Charles Fillmore, “The Vegetarian,” May 1920

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims


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