Peniel–January 2018

“Where Jacob Wrestled with God”
Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker
January, 2018
Fr. River Damien Sims, DMin.,D.S.T.


Journal of An Alien Street Priest
As we enter the New Year I am reminded of the words of actor River Phoenix “I am in love with the human race. I don’t to separate myself from the rest of the world.  If the world is not going to good I’m part of that. I’ll be happy to take the blame. I’m along for the ride.”
We are all along for the “ride”, and rather than blame, criticize, and complain I believe we should simply take that ride.
For me the taking of that  ride is found in the definition of a priest: “one who sacrifices”.. .the word sacrifice means to make whole.”  I see taking the ride of life as trying to make wholeness out of life. Wholeness in life is being present to the needs of others.
In the past eight weeks I have been going through a dark time with an illness that was difficult to diagnose.  I have had high fevers, night sweats, weight loss, deep mood swings. I knew there was a possibility of cancer because my parents and grand parents died of cancer. It has been a fearful time. Yesterday they found a non-malignant tumor or small growth,surrounded by  an abscess, severely infected, in my stomach. It was removed, and I am on antibiotics, and on the road to recovery.
I have had very little support during this time. People love talking on social media, forming their opinions, and others are afraid I might have something “contagious”.  But there have been three people who have been my “priests”, who have walked with me during this time.
They are two eighteen year old young men, and one seventeen year old. One is my power of attorney. All three have given me acceptance, and love, without judgment. They have always been there, and being with me “ain’t easy”.  In my darkest times I could count on them. They have exemplified to me what a being a true “priest” is about–being present, being with someone, without judgment.
So as we enter 2018 I invite you to become “priests to one another”, to walk with people, to step out of your social media and not hide but interact, and be present.  One of my friends was present to me on snap chat when I was running a high fever late at night. He was so present I thought he was sitting at my bedside, so social media is a tool for ministry, but only when we put ourselves a side and walk with the other.
The story of the Velveteen Rabbit is a child’s story of a stuffed rabbit becoming so torn from use that he became a living being through the love he showed in the giving of himself.
In the next year become a priest to people around you by getting your self torn up in loving and caring. I will continue to strive to do so, join me in that struggle. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
As we end the year I invite you to join us in our ministry of presence on Polk Street and Haight Street.
We have walked for example with “Sean” who attempted suicide on Christmas Eve. We have spent time with him, and found a place for him to stay for a few days, and simply been present.
We have walked with the hundreds on Polk Street and Haight who sleep in tents, on the street, and need food, socks, but most importantly our presence.
So join us and donate.
Write a check to Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
or donate through pay pal on
This first letter of the New Year is dedicated to
Matthew Lasky
Jacob Nelson
and Ethan Wales
The best “priests” I know.


Fr. River Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, California 94164-2656

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” Elizabeth Gilbert

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.   
(Pema Chödrön)  

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” (Pema Chödrön)  

Self-esteem is the commitment to treat yourself in a kindly, loving manner when you’re alone.  This is an active process that requires effort and energy.

— David Burns, Intimate connections, 1985.






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