“Where Jacob wrestled with God, and survived.”

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw,


Journal of an Alien Street Priest:

For twenty years, I have hung out on these streets, and people have tried to place labels on what I am doing, have tried to get me do it a certain way—and I hang out in the “messiness” of the lives of the people who live on the streets—in particular Haight and Polk. Recently I had a volunteer walk away because he simply did not “understand” what I was doing—I could feed more people, instead I simply talked to people and took my time; and that has been the way with volunteers through the years: they come and go, and for the most part feel frustrated. In thinking about it, I blamed myself, but it has dawned on me that the reality is that I am simply being a pastor, hanging out in the “mess,” a pastor without goals for people, without expectations, but one who lives in the messiness of their lives, bringing the grace of God when I can.

For fifteen years before Polk Street, I was the ambitious pastor—setting and meeting goals, developing beautiful services, and, ultimately, it was death-dealing, because the calling of pastor is to live in the messiness of life, as a witness to Christ.

When I came to San Francisco, I came with one ambition—simply to be a pastor. That is where I find joy, that is where I find fulfillment, and that is what I have done the past twenty years in the ups and downs, in the dark alleys, and in the sunlight: I have been a pastor, and that is the way I will finish up this life—being a pastor. That is why I have never sought to create a physical “Catholic Worker” community—our ministry is a pastoral ministry, it is one that walks with individuals in their messiness. And, frankly, it is a ministry that I developed so that I could continue as a pastor at a time when the world was saying “no” because of my sexual orientation. And so we continue to walk in the “messiness of life,” we continue as a pastor.

I have learned that the real art of living is to overcome our wounds, embrace our limitations, and make the best of our gifts. My gift is to bring my wounds and limitations to simply sitting with people, listening to them, letting them be themselves, and witnessing to a way of life that offers hope in whatever way is at hand.

This is very personal to me, so forgive all the “I”s, but as we go through this twentieth year, so much is coming up within me, and in sharing my hope that you will see your own journey, as we continue this journey together, and these struggles together.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


We continue our meals on Tuesday and Thursday night. We begin preparation at 2:00 p.m. and if you would like to help please call us at 415-305-2124.



October 10, 2014—Interfaith Service of Fasting and Silence—People of All Faiths

Earl Warren Supreme Court Building, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Geoff Carr, Vietnam War Veteran, Speaking

For more information: 415-305-2124 or
In Partnership with Death Penalty Focus, Temenos Catholic Worker and the Society of Franciscan Workers

We Are Beggars:

Through the years, people have always been surprised, and sometimes bewildered, when they have been told that we do not take grants, but that we work and take what is given to us. For twenty years, we have never wanted. We have always had enough to provide for the care of our people—socks, pastoral care, food, clothing, and harm-reduction supplies—and, frankly, that is enough. So we asked that you remember us in your giving: give what you can, knowing that some 2000 people each month are touched by your love and care.

You may give by check at:

P.O. Box 642656, San Francisco, CA 94164]
or through PayPal on our website at

This is our 20th Anniversary newsletter. Twenty years ago I moved on to Polk Street and began Temenos Catholic Worker. I began with just buying pizza, one slice at a time, and the years have brought thousands into my life with much sorrow, and much, much joy. And I am forever grateful to you that have supported me these years. Each sand which I hand out, each serving of hot food I serve, every piece of harm reduction supplies given , every pair of socks given, each person whose hand I hold, for whom I celebrate weddings and funerals, every person I anoint, and visit in the hospital, and every one for whom the Sacraments are celebrated you walk with me, you support me, and you have loved me in your own way. You are very much present with me in each step I take.

I am often asked how I support myself, and people seem shocked when they learn that I am supported through sending out a newsletter and sharing the work with people, with you. For you see in each of you, whatever you believe, God works and each of you have a heart for people on the streets, for people who have so little, and you are willing to share–to share and support this crazy priest. So for that I am and will always be eternally thankful.

Thank you for your monetary support, but more importantly thank you for your support of faith with me in and out of season. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you and may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: