Archive for April, 2016


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

Going Before You Into Galilee

April 25, 2016

Going Before You Into Galilee

St. Mark

Mark 16:16-20

On this Feast of St. Mark we read Mark’s account of the resurrection. It is open ended.  He allows us to write our own conclusion by taking up the cross of discipleship and going forth to meet him for ourselves.

The past week has been a journey into the unknown for  me. On Tuesday I was  accidentally given some drug laced with poison. I  was lucky, but the drug has left me exhausted, depressed, and reflective on my life.

Last Spring during the Helen Prejean Event an older lesbian friend desired to come, but she shared with me how the church had hurt her in her coming out severely, condemning and rejecting her. She could had difficulty even coming in the door. She really wanted to hear Helen. I  suggested she stand outside the door, and she did, and I  walked her into fellowship hall where Helen greeted her warmly. She had cold sweats.

There was a time when I too would have had cold sweats to walk into a church sanctuary. Today I still feel uncomfortable within the sanctuary of an church building. People joke with me it appears I feel so at home in the kitchen of St. Luke’s, and I do, where in the sanctuary I am uncomfortable, and old memories haunt me.  I remember clearly the week I shared with my superior about my being gay, and that Sunday, the Sunday of Christ the King, and the reading was Matthew 25:31-46, he came and announced with me standing there that because of my  “homosexuality”, I  was removed from ministry. I was escorted out of town to a motel. I felt like I had a scarlet letter placed upon my chest. It was the most devastating event in my life, and my clergy friends all, to a one, turned their backs on me. 

That was years ago, like a beautiful piece of wood I have healed, but the scars remain, and God has used that to call me to ministry with the forgotten ones, the ones who are at the bottom, who are young, who really do not fit into any where. They do not access the system, they travel, and really do not want services. They are the one’s out of the ninety and nine to whom I am called to minister.   But the reality is that to this day I feel very uncomfortable inside a church building. I go when I am have  to preach, but the services we conduct are out on the streets, where the one’s who too feel uncomfortable stay. What is funny I feel comfortable in the area of the Church where people’s ashes are placed, and mine will be placed there. For this is where it all began for me in the sanctuary, and to it I will return. 

Secondly, all of us have our own tribes. We operate where we feel safe.  I move in and out of various tribes, but the reality I live, work, and feel comfortable on the street. I am called a street priest, a punk priest, and both are not romantic or cute names, they are who I am. I live close to the streets, I relate, and move among street people, and for me the punk scene of the music which separates one from the culture is the one I identify with. My journey has shaped me in these areas, formed me, and has given me a ministry.  It is one on the edge.

I absolutely try, I really absolutely try to see all aspects of life with fairness, without judgment, but I know that in my writing, speaking, that the way I live speaks louder than words, and that my words too speak.  I try to see all sides, and never intentionally seek to hurt anyone. 

When I apologize I mean my apologies.  And what I am saying is that all of our journey’s into Galilee are different. They come from following the Christ of the many different faces.  I have no regrets as I journey into Galilee, and my hope is that you see your life on that journey in its form as a blessing. And see all of our journeys as an expression of the Christ of many faces.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



April 24, 2016


Sunday, April 24, 2016

John 13:31-35

There is a song by Jocelyn Brown entitled Believe which goes something like this:

“Can’t sleep at night about the problems I  face, the friends I thought I could count on, than I  wake up in the morning knowing I will find my way; All I  have to do is believe in myself and I will find my way.”

Through out our life we have had  people telling us what to do; people send us phone calls, emails, face book, and twitter messages criticizing what we write,  the way we do ministry, and threatening to harm us.  We are always being told how wrong we are, how we are not doing any one any good, how we are not Christian, and many other things not printable. We write, we do our work, because that is our calling. The key for us is believing in ourselves.  For twenty two years our ministry has continued because first of all we believe that we are following Christ  and he is leading us, and secondly we believe in our self. We believe that our work is God’s work, and that it touches a lot of lives with infinite results. We are a pastor, we walk with people without expectation, we listen, we seek to introduce them to the Gospel, and for us the Gospel means the many faces of God, in our tradition Jesus. We introduce them to a the One beyond themselves that gives meaning in the midst of their hardships.  The One who will walk with them in the cold of the night, and of harshness of the streets. Tonight we spent time with 35 year old Jazz, whom we have known since he was 15. He has been homeless and a drug addict for over twenty three years.  We provided some socks, food, and listened, and he asked for prayer. We simply walk as a pastor with him–we are not a social worker,  just a pastor.

The past few days I have listened to individuals who are severely depressed, stressed out, filled with self doubt, and very lonely. They reach out for answers. We listened, for we know that ultimately the only answer comes from  within themselves.  We encourage them to take it a moment at a time, to mediate, to look deep within themselves, and to listen to their intuition. The most painful depression we have suffered has brought us to resurrection.

Many years ago a therapist told us that until we believed in ourselves we would have difficulty with depression and life in general.  We have learned to believe in ourselves, and in so doing we hear the words of Jesus: “I have come, come that you might have life in all of its’ fullness.” That is what ministry is about, connecting people to the abundant life, within themselves, and from there they can move mountains. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims


Peniel–Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker–May

April 22, 2016




“Where Jacob Wrestled with God”

May, 2016

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Telephone: 415-305-2124


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




 JOHN 6:16-21

The photo is of a display in front of City Hall entitled “Intrude”.  In Australia the rabbits intruded on the land so much  they almost destroyed the lives of the settlers.   As we view this display we look around and see the construction,of new buildings,  see people sleeping on the street, people hungry,  and we think of how in the same way our own fears of not having enough, of wanting more has intruded on the quality of human life and of the destruction of the environment.  We are afraid.

We are afraid of our cities being attacked, we are afraid of being robbed, and of not having enough money.  Our fears have intruded on our lives, have shut us off from the One who says “Do not be afraid!”    Courage is not the absence of fear, but fear overcome by faith.

Fear is over come by forgiveness and prayer.  We have to forgive ourselves for the harm we do in our selfishness to our brothers and sisters, and that we are doing to the environment,  and in turning to God have faith that we will be provided for, thus freeing ourselves of those fears. 

In that faith we share with our brothers and sisters.  In faith we preserve our environment. Living the Gospel without compromise means to walk in faith that Jesus will lift us out of the storm.  Living the Gospel without compromise means to share equally with our brothers and sisters.  Living the Gospel without compromise means to see that what we are doing to the environment is resulting from our  selfishness, and move  to protect it.  Like the rabbits we are intruding upon God’s creation and destroying it.  Having faith that Jesus will hold us gives us balance. 

The presidential election is full of our fear, to achieve balance we need to look within ourselves, and move from that inner heart into the world in faith that the Risen One is with us, and thus change the world through sharing and preservation. Revolution and change come from within, and faith can move mountains. 

Our fears are formed from  our biases that have been ingrained in us through years of listening to others and our culture.  Through our years of being a pastor we have learned to view all things through our relationships as a pastor, and from this view we have come to a new understanding of medical marijuana and so we present our experience:


The pastoral relationship trumps all relationships in ministry.  Being a pastor is entering into people’s lives in their most fragile moments and walking with them in the name of Christ.  Being a pastor means to be willing to lay down one’s life for the people one serves. So the issue around marijuana has been for us both personal and pastoral.

Sixteen years ago our doctor became concerned with our liver enzymes because of the antidepressants we were taking. In fact we felt the drugs did nothing but cause us to gain weight.   He suggested that we go off the anti-depressants and begin taking a certain amount of marijuana. And so for the next thirteen years each night we smoked pot.  And we noticed our mood changed, our health improved, and we felt better. 

Through the years we have seen many, many,  people with attention deficit disorder, PTSD, depression, and great pain from cancer treatment improve and function using marijuana. 

When people start hurling the negatives about the use of  420 we  simply pick up our  blood pressure medication which points out that there is a risk of liver damage and a risk of death, and for which I have tests each year to see to it that our liver is not damaged.  Like all drugs, all issues, there are negatives, but we have seen over and over again the positive.  St. Ignatius believed that in “all things” God can be found.

We are not going to argue pro or con about the use of marijuana for medical purposes,  for we have seen in walking with people the benefits of medical marijuana.  We have experienced the benefits. For us when we hold someone’s hand suffering from depression, PTSD, and pain from a fatal disease and see their suffering relieved, all we can say is:

Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Deo Gratias!  Thanks be to God!



By the Rev. Ken Howard

My name is Ken Howard. I’m an extrapreneurial faith leader, congregational pastor, church futurist, author, an avid reader of Fr. River Sims blog posts, and grateful for the opportunity to write an article for his newsletter about my latest endeavor, The FaithX Project, and the Kickstarter campaign associated with it.

The “X” in “FaithX” stands for “eXperimental.” In a nutshell, the FaithX Project is about providing faith leaders with the tools they need to transform the organizations they lead from unsustainable religious institutions into experimental faith communities capable of surviving and thriving in the face of the singularity of uncertainty and change that is the 21st century.

In 2010, in a book called Paradoxy, I speculated that a massive religious realignment was underway that would change the face of the Christianity as we have come to know it. Five years of demographic trend analysis has transformed that speculation into fact. Denominations and local faith communities worldwide are currently splintering at more than twice the rate of growth of the worldwide population of Christians, creating a singularity of uncertainty and change. And this same phenomenon may be beginning to affect other religions as well.

The choice is clear: adapt or die. Rigid, institutionalized religion is incapable of adapting. But faith-based communities and organizations that are willing to become more lean, creative, and experimental will not only survive but thrive.

The FaithX Project is about providing faith leaders with the tools they need to navigate the singularity: research-based principles and practices that produce communities and organizations that can confront uncertainty and change with courage and agility.

We plan to disseminate these principle and practices widely through three channels: 

  • A Research-Based Book with practical, real-world examples, designed to equip new, experienced or aspiring leaders to prepare faith-based communities and organizations to survive and thrive amid escalating uncertainty and change.
  • A Global, Online Community of practice, in which leaders on the front lines of faith-community development can come together to share lessons learned from successes and failures, develop best practices, explore new applications and seek advice and support from other practitioners.
  • A Supported Consultancy to provide local faith-based communities and organizations with needed coaching and training at a cost they can afford.

Each of these three parts requires adequate resources of time and funding to do well. Which is why we are doing a Kickstarter campaign to fund it and why we hope you will prayerfully consider becoming a

Faith X    Project Backer

I’m excited about this project. I’m excited about the potential it holds for the future of faith-based communities and organizations. I’m especially excited about the possibilities inherent in bringing together experience and insights from practitioner across multiple disciplines, and in creating resources with the active input of those we hope will benefit from them. I hope you share my excitement. And I hope you will help me bring it to fruition, not just as backers, but also as partners, practitioners, and fellow explorers of the undiscovered future that lies before us all.  Our website:



We are beggars, pure and simple.  We place our hope for support in your hands, and at the kindness of your heart.  We have been asked why we do not send out “fundraising” letters during the holidays, and through out the year.  The reason is simple,  we believe that our work is valuable and that people will be give from their hearts. 

Summer is coming, money is short, and we are giving out ten thousand pairs of socks a month, feeding 2000 people, providing pastoral care to three hundred.  So please open your hearts to the those who have so little. 

We are a non-profit 501. c3 organization so please make your checks to:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

or give at pay on at

Thank you.



The Acts of Today’s Apostles

April 22, 2016


Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20  Blessed Bernard the Penitent

The book of Acts is a description of the Apostles embracing the Risen Christ and living out their faith, preaching, feeding and caring for the needy;  the church grew because in a society that cared little for people  Christians fed the hungry, clothed the naked, took care of those who were sick, visited those in prison.  They experienced  the Risen Christ and lived out that experience. They shared of their material goods, they shared of themselves, event to the point of death.

When people point out how special Dorothy Day was, or how “special” I am for the work she did, and I do , or others who do the same work, it sometimes makes me sick to my stomach. For one thing I am a bumbling fool.  Dorothy, many others, and  myself are compelled by Christ  to do this work. We have no choice in order to live out our lives fully.It is our choice, and in this  choice we find a wholeness to our lives 

I have been doing interviews for my dissertation with various people.  Almost to a one they talk of working with the government to get people off the street, to work with the poor. They talk in a distant manner, not themselves getting their hands dirty.  When I hear the homeless and the poor put at a distance it makes me sick. For when we lose the sight of the individual, we lose our humanity.

Today as Robby and I walked the Haight, giving out food and socks, we were simply taking care of our friends.  They are not people to be told they have to do anything. To me they are God’s children, each and every one of them. One of the young men commented recently he always liked me because “this is not your job, you are my friend.” 

To be a friend for me personally means we are willing to share of what we have, to be there with people in their pain, in their suffering and in their joys.To provide resources when they want those resources, and  to work with them on their level.

To me this is what being embraced by Christ is about–to move from that embrace in loving people equally, sharing of what we have, to the our greatest limits– to provide for their needs, getting our hands dirty. In Christ’s embrace we are peers with all.  We get hurt, but that in that pain we realize our fullest humanity, embraced in the love of the Risen Christ. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

In This Light

April 20, 2016

In This Light

“I came into the world so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness”

This past day is lost to me.  In the afternoon a young girl offered me some water, and foolishly I drank it, and than she said, “prepare for the ride”. the ride I found out was LSD.  I was in the hospital from 4 p.m. until 1:00 a..m. tripping. Not a good trip, not fun,stupid blunder on my part. It ruined a birthday dinner for a friend, who faithfully stood by me.

But at the heart of this experience was the presence of Christ, I felt him there, probably laughing at me, but still there. During the time of simply going in and out- I had two telephone calls. Both wanted someone to listen to them, and so I did, and I gave one an absolution, but it dawned on me that this is what I do-=I listen, I am a pastor pure and simple. I frankly don;t remember who called, or what they said, but I listened.  And suffering this afternoon brought me to recommitting myself to walking with any one who needs me in the night, in the day. In this society of social media people desperately want the human touch and contact.  They are desperate to hear the word of hope in


Finally I relived intensely the experience where I was raped last summer, a rape done to stop me from testifying in a trial which I testified in, and the young man was freed. That rape has colored my year, it has haunted me. Therapy has helped little, and as I relived that night again, I came for the first time to understand it as a part of the crucifixion we go through when we follow Christ. I remember the young man asked several weeks after the trial: “would u do it again?” and I said, “Absolutely.”

I have been told that when I share some parts of my experience in ministry I scare people, to keep things back–no more–screw that. You get it unfiltered  Ministry hurts, it hurts like hell, it is scary as hell,  but in that hurting comes resurrection.

This is what ministry is for me–giving my life away, that is the call of ministry to all of us. Get our hands dirty, suffer crucifixion and in that crucifixion you find resurrection.

So maybe this was not a waste after all. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

Don’t Be A Jerk

April 19, 2016


Anna Dengel said; “Be an optimistic no matter what comes. We don’t have be afraid; we are in God’s hands.”

My mother taught me from the time I was little to fine a profession in which you don’t work, you have so much fun you are always on vacation. That is the advice I gave a friend in college recently.  And that is the why when people asked me about vacations and time off, I laugh, for I never work, I am always playing. 

I spent the day setting up the meal for tomorrow, preparing sweet potato pies for a friend’s birthday tomorrow; tomorrow we will serve a meal, and than my friend and his mom and I will go out to Greens to celebrate; tonight after the bars closed I am long boarding down the hill on California Street with three of my Haight Street buddies. This weekend I am going to a college graduation party on the beach in Santa Cruz and surfing; I write,  I celebrate the Eucharist, I preach, and I hang out, that for me is not work, that is fun.

Sometimes I get caught up in the rancor on Face book. and all social media and I remind myself of three Ignatian guidelines and to have fun, for we have such a short time:

1. You’re are not God. Sorry, we are not God. First we can not change most things, so stop trying; second we are not in charge, so stop acting as if we are. And third we don’t know everything–so we should stop acting like it. It brings  calm and perspective on all things.

2.  This isn’t heaven. Scott Peck said once you learn life is difficult, than you can live and have fun. 

3, Don’t be a jerk–I prefer another word, but oh well I am trying to clean up my language.  We need to respect people for their views, and their opinions.  We need to have respect for people regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political views. 

The way to live with this approach is to ask God to help us see what he/she sees in them. For me I always remember when I am pointing a finger there are four pointing at me, and that until I walk a mile in the moccasins of others I know nothing.

“Be optimistic no matter what comes.  We don’t have to be afraid, we are in God’s hands.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

Abundance for the Common Good

April 18, 2016


Acts 11:1-18;  John 10:1-10

“You entered the house of uncircumcised people. . .” Acts 11:1; “I came that you might have life, life in all of its fullness.” John 10:10

The “uncircumcised people” today are the unwanted, the homeless, the ones who are dirty, mentally ill, who do not fit in.

The reality of life is that homelessness is everywhere.  Up and down the coast, in our rural areas, on our streets there are thousands of homeless.  They have mental illness, do not have the ability to work, and even when they work in a society that is so tuned to mechanization can not find a job.  The majority have PTSD.

The recent figure of 6000 plus in the Chronicle is the number that has been given for years. The count is not one that is scientific, there are far more homeless in San Francisco.

People asked me for solutions and I have gotten to the point where I do not answer because there are no solutions if any until we involve those on our streets in the process, and I mean involve them, of looking at the problem. Rather than all the bureaucrats with their fat salaries we should hire homeless people to work on the problems; we will have homelessness as long as people remain so greedy that they are not willing to share of their wealth–which means giving of their money, buying smaller houses, providing the mental health and health care that every one needs.

We will have homelessness as long as we treat people as “uncircumcised”, rather than welcoming them as human being into our lives.

Jesus says we can have “abundant life”, and that ‘abundant life,” comes when we open our hearts, our souls, our minds, our pocket books and our lives to all who are hurting, and get bruised in working with them. Real life comes in being emerged in the River of Fire, the burning fire of the living God who fills us with the fire of abundance, but we have to be willing to give, to trust, and to work. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims