Archive for March, 2017


March 31, 2017



Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things, begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end the one who suffers the most.” Thomas Merton

“At the Last Judgment, I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises. . Instead I shall be asked, Did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners.” Mother Maria Skobtsova


In the last week, my birthday week, I have thought a lot about suffering and death.  Our society avoids the both subjects–everything is in the now, in the beauty and glamour of youth and glamour.

Personally I can not avoid either.  Death is always near. I sat with a twenty five year old two weeks ago as he died,  I saw a knife fight in the Park the other day–death is always present. Death hovers over the hundreds of people I see each week–it hovers in disease that is present, in the coolness of the weather, in the lack of food–death is present, it is real. And there is much suffering, every minute of every day–each one suffers in the cold, with the pain of hunger, and the fear of death.  Life on the streets is a death watch.

Mother Maria Skobtsova summarizes for me what life is about, and why until my dying breath I will continue doing what I do–in sickness, and in health, with money, or no money, in pain or no pain:

“At the Last Judgment, I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises. . Instead I shall be asked, Did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!





Peniel–April, 2017

March 29, 2017

Rainbow Cross




Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

“Risen or Hoax?”

“Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here. He has been raised. .” Matthew 28:1-10.

In academia we learn that the story of the resurrection is really a “myth”,  the only historical record we have is from Josephus who writes of  a “Jesus” being crucified.  That’s it in so far as historical record is concerned. Through the years, I have had friends who took delight in pointing out to me that the story of a “risen savior” is a part of the myths of the Greeks, and beyond.  So is the resurrection a hoax?

The other aspect of history is that a group of people   were transformed by this “myth”: they moved out into the world taking care of people—feeding them, treating them with equality, and bringing a new sense of what it means to be human, and that transformation became Christianity  and shaped the world.

Personally I remember a night in the coolness of the Ozarks, around a camp fire, when a still, small voice nudged my heart, and I knew that the One we call Jesus existed and was calling me to ministry. My life was transformed; I remember years later, on the streets of Los Angles, a broken  whore, nowhere to go, feeling that same Jesus surrounding me with his love, and transforming my life in new ways.

So is the myth of the resurrection real? Or is it a hoax?  Personally my answer is found in the words of a reprobate by the name of Paul, who murdered Christians before he encountered that Presence:

“The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; the he presented himself alive to Peter, than to his closet followers and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time.  .” I Corinthians 15.

All of us must answer that question, and we know it is real when the response is love. So for you is he risen? Or is his story a hoax? Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!




Good Friday, April 14, 2016

Beginning at City Hall—Noon

Polk and McAllister Streets




When people donate money to us, one can say it becomes the money of Temenos Catholic Worker, but we personally always remember that that money is the possession of others given to be used for the welfare of our street youth, and we use it as a sacred trust and in a responsible manner. Food, socks, pastoral care, and harm reduction supplies are provided through your giving.

Please give as your heart leads you:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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Continuing Transformation

March 28, 2017

Continuing Transformation

I have spent the past four days in Hollywood, and the tattoo is a new one signifying where I see my life as I celebrate my birthday and begin a new year. The “No Regrets” says clearly I have no regrets about anything in my life, for it has been a continued growing experience in grace, the cross symbolizes my faith in the One who brings life in all things, the skulls mean for me deaths we all experience and the two thousand or so young people I have buried the past nearly twenty three years; and “Finding God in All Things”, is from St. Ignatius. God is in all things–there are no boundaries with God.

Hollywood is where my life was transformed so many years ago now. I was kicked out of my denomination, and found myself a whore in Hollywood, and that is where Christ met me face to face and my life was transformed into newness. Dr.
Walter Brueggeman my Old Testament professor in seminary lectured this weekend and his words rang true as they always do. He and Dorothy Day have been the two most instrumental people on my journey of life.

Walt teaches  God is always growing and changing, in the process of dialogue and relationship with people not like us; and that only in relating to each other, no matter how painful, can we grow. As I walked around Hollywood the number of people sleeping outside has grown in the last couple of year, it is that way all over our country. We need to start facing that reality, and dialogue with people who are different; I am changing dentists because the one I am going to begin seeing  is Muslim and has lost a lot of patients in the last few months–over his religion–I am going to support him; we need to let go of those labels and see our common humanity.

Walt told of telling someone jokingly when they talked of the violence through out the Bible, that “God is a recovering addict,” and that he is showing that recovery in Jesus. The world is full of violence, violence is simple as walking past a homeless person without noticing them. God calls us to non-violence in all areas of life.

Finally Walt pointed out that God is not a God creeds, but One who calls us to fidelity in human relationships. That fidelity is summed up in the commandment of Jesus calling us to love God and our neighbor. We are are called to be faithful in love.

I have finished my dissertation and I was told it is “different”, and I laugh, and laugh loud because it is as old as the Christian message, for what I write about is calling people to work with street youth from the bottom up, in other words to walk with them as equals, on their level. In the words of Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” For that I will die for. Deo Gratias!Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



March 22, 2017



I am always asked “What do you do?”  I simply listen.   With every plate of food, every pair of socks given–I simply listen.

Listening requires us to listen with our whole being–our heart, mind and soul. This is the greatest act of loving we can give–to listen. For to listen is to respond in love.

For a few moments reflect upon what would happen if you would stop reading face book, listening to the twenty four hour news channel,  and   being concerned with the act of what you are doing, and simply listen, how much peace and contentment you would bring to another and to yourself.  And when we listen we enter into the life of another–and they simply become human beings on the same journey, with different paths. Listening breaks down all barriers.

Listening is the greatest gift we can give another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Walking Upside Down

March 18, 2017

Walking Upside Down

Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

…”he was lost and he has been found. .”

There is a delightful animated film about a small boy who learned to walk on his hands instead of his feet.  The story stresses the pressures toward conformity in our society.  The little boy’s strange behavior had the most pleasant results for him. Walking on his hands gave him a radically different perspective on the world.  He could smell the flowers without bending down.  He was close to the earth so that he could see vividly the beauty of grass, and he met the butterfly eyeball to eyeball as it skimmed along the ground. But his parents were deeply distressed.  Their darling child was a misfit!  So they took him first to a medical doctor, then to a psychiatrist, and then to a social worker.  All of the newest theories were employed to change the little boy’s behavior.  Gradually  he was made to learn to walk like all other humans–on his feet.  The parents were relieved; the doctors, social workers, and others who had helped were proud of their success.  But now the little boy began to see the world as others saw it: dirty, ugly, polluted, and filled with persons obediently doing what was expected of them.  His short-lived posture that had enabled him to appreciate more easily the beauty of the world was ended. Now he was like everyone else.

This parable illustrates the manner in which conformity is of the highest priority in our society. It also suggests the way in which nonconformist positions in religion are made to fit into the mainstream of thought.  It suggests how we expect people to move, act, and live within our mindset.

Jesus walked on his hands. He saw people as children of God regardless of social position, the color of their skin, their race, what they wore or did not wear, and their religion. They were children of God.  He called people with money to share, to provide for those who did not have.  He was crucified for walking on his hands. And God having the final say, raised Jesus, and  continue to calls each of us to walk on our hands as well. To smell the flowers, the earth and to look into the eyes of the butterfly.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Join In Prayer for Trans Justice

March 17, 2017

I could live without…



Weekend of Prayer

March 24-26

Join Faith Communities

Across the Country

In Praying For Transgender Justice

Observe Weekend of Prayer


Gen. 37:12-13 a, 17 b-28 a  Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46


Joseph was a dreamer; Jesus was a dreamer. Jesus dreamed of justice, mercy, love for all. He went to the cross, and rose again.  Jesus calls us to dream–to dream of a world where there are no judgments around gender, sexual orientation, race, creed or color. Where there are no boundaries between countries, but where all share and care for one another.   Dreaming means that we see reality first of all.

The reality we are confronted with is that Transgender individuals are persecuted, ignored, and avoided by a majority of people. They never have an equal footing with the queer community.
We turn an eye to their struggle, rather than walk with them.

Next weekend let us remind our churches, our faith groups to Join in Prayer for  Trans Justice; let us remind everyone to write and email all levels of government about transgender rights; and let each one of us open our eyes to  those rights, and to the individuals in our midst who are struggling and welcome them into our fellowship with open arms and hearts. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Terrifying Freedom

March 16, 2017


Luke 16:19-31

This novel is the story of a nun, Rebecca, who moved from the confines of a controlling church, which sought to control through belief, structure, and relationships to the terrifying freedom of being her own self.  She moved outside the box. She embraced her individuality, at the cost of rejection by her church, her mother, and friends. This came through her work with the poor of Appalachia and walking with them where they are.  Rebecca experienced the terrifying freedom of resurrection on her journey. Her story is the story of growing up, of becoming mature.

This is my birthday month. Birthdays for me mark a time to reflect on the past year. It is not about moving towards  the end of the journey, for the journey continues beyond death into eternity.

I do not believe in revealing my age. On Mars I would be twenty two, so age is relative, and this year on my twenty second birthday, therefore I will reflect on the journey. It has been a terrifying journey for in moving into the freedom of life–you leave behind those things that bring security–beliefs, structures, and friends. It is moving into the “wilderness”.  In hanging out with street youth I have embraced my “wildness”, for they have taught me so much about being a human. I have no trust for the system that is destructive, I question all and in so doing I experience the risen Christ in  my life as the  “Wild Goose.”  He calls me, he calls all of us to follow him to find real freedom.

In the past year there have been attempts on my life, which have left scars both mentally and physically, I have had friends (or were they ever friends)  who simply stop speaking to me, I have lost donors, I have been rejected, pilloried and hated, and in so doing I have grown, and the definition for maturity that has grown from these experiences is expressed in these words:

“Maturity is growing into seeing others simply as fellow creatures on the journey of life–without regard to the color of their skin, their religion, sexual orientation, or boundaries of where they live–seeing them simply as fellow travelers. Maturity is sharing of what we have so that all will have what they need.” (Fr. River Damien Sims)

Freedom is terrifying as hell–but it is life breathed into our souls, each and every moment.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Behind the Thunder by Mark Nepo

I keep looking for one more teacher,

only to find that fish learn from water and birds from the sky.

If you want to learn about the sea,

it helps to be at sea,

if you want to learn about compassion,

it helps to be in love.

If you want to learn about healing,

it helps to know suffering.

The strong live in the storm

without worshiping the storm.

In the Mists of the Night

March 12, 2017

In the Mists of the Night

Matthew 17:1-9

The night is scary for most people; after midnight the streets become scary or so people think; in Golden Gate Park it is against the law to be in the Park after sundown.  At that time of night scary people come out–the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes.  In the Park youth lay down to sleep the best they can, or huddle around a fire, keeping watch for the police.  And I work and function best at this time of night. For those “scary” people are God’s children, they are the spit-ten image of the face of God.  In the mists of the night the Transfiguration of Christ burns brightly.

Jamie and Bambi are nineteen, they are “night people,”, when in reality they are travelers around the country, and find it safer to be up at night. Their photo is of two beautiful people–not “scary people.”

This Lent let us see the Transfiguration of Jesus in all of our lives, and in all the people we meet, rather than judging by religion, the time of day they are up, their economic status, their race, creed, or sexual orientation.  Each person we meet is the face the transfigured face of Jesus.

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


Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.

Lenten Exercise

March 11, 2017
I invite you this week to use the “Listening Hand” Activity to reflect on your your Lenten Journey and talk about it on Facebook:
Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.



The Shadow land of Ministry

March 11, 2017

The Shadow land of Ministry

Matthew 5:43-47

“You are familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.. .In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects.  Now live like it. Live out your God created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives towards you.”

Tonight I was awaken from a deep sleep by the sound of the phone. At the end was voice of  a young man I had met on the train going to L.A. several months ago. I saw him trying to find food in a waste basket and I invited him to dinner in the dining car. He had broken up with his girlfriend and was going home.  Lance was severely depressed broke and hungry, and I listened for hours and gave him my card. He was calling, depressed and lonely, from southern cal, and I listened.

As I listened I thought of how I live in the shadow land of ministry.  Twenty two years ago a priest who worked with AID’S patients told me that my ministry would be one of “getting dirty”, that by being immersed in the life of street youth that stories would be told both good and bad, that I would never be clean, but “dirty for the Lord,” and than later another person said, “You will be like a person in the middle of a railroad track with many trains coming at you.”

And many trains come toward me, as I live in the shadows. And as those trains come, I see the faces of Lance, Lake, Sandy, and so many more I have listened to, and that makes it all worth it for  in the shadows I hear Jesus calling me to follow him  into Galilee and I follow and in following there are no shadows.  I have learned to love my enemies, for they point me towards the Kingdom.

“Seek first the reign of God and all else will fall in,” and so it does

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164