Archive for August, 2021

No Hiding

August 29, 2021


“Religion that God, our Father and Mother  accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world James 1:27.”

Secrets lead to lies, deceit, and divisive relationships. Presently we have a division between those vaccinated, and those not.  People speak with anger and hate towards those not vaccinated; there are political divisions, which separate families, and we hear such hatred and division in the commercials around the coming election; through the years there have been so many stories told about me, and I have learned simply to laugh them off (I would not have time to sleep if I was that busy!) and move on.

The truth is these divisions are away of our hiding from others, hiding our fears of those who are different, have separate opinions, and that leads to violence. To meet others with differences, to make ourselves vulnerable–means we take a chance of being hurt.

People tell me secrets all the time, and those secrets lead to emotional and physical pain. There were two elderly ladies in a parish I served, who literally hated each other. They would not speak to each other at church or in groups they belonged to, and each uttered such negative words against the other–when asked what about this feud,  decades-old, was about–neither one could name it.

Fr, Henri Nouwen writes of what happens when we stop hiding our secrets:

“Why do we keep hiding our deepest feelings from each other? We suffer much, but we also have great gifts for each other. The mystery is that by hiding our pain we also hide our ability to heal… .We are called to confess to each other and forgive each other, and thus to discover the abundant mercy of God. But at the same time, we are so terribly afraid of being hurt more than we already are. This fear keeps us, prisoners, even when the prison has no walls! I see better every day how radical Jesus’ message of love really is.” Amen!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



If you have sent a message through the post office and it has been returned please let me know. They are having some difficulty at the moment. So please let me know.


Our official date to return to full-time work is September 17 when we have a table at the:

Reentry Conference and Resource Fair

September 17

8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

1111 Gough Street, San Francisco


August 26, 2021

A Less Tiring Position!


Matthew 12:46-49

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, waiting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers and sisters. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is brother and sister and mother.”

I was asked yesterday, “When are you going back to work?” and my reply was, “I hang out, I do not work!” We have to validate our usefulness through working. This morning going across the street to the donut shop, I ran into Gary, a black gentleman who calls me “family,” we had coffee together. One does not work when we hang out with family, and that is the way I see ministry, hanging with family.

I look back to growing up. My father, adopted me when I was four years old, and never did he treat me other than as his son, and from him, I learned my spirituality. I am who I am today because of my dad. Wade was my real dad, blood or no blood.

When I found myself on the street, and my “friends” walked away, as did my biological family, my family became the street youth in L.A. We took care of each other, in the good and the bad times.

I visit with several members of my biological family now,  but we really do not know each other. The family who has been my support in illness, in times of depression, and pain have been the family created through love, struggle, and care. My family is all of you who have provided support these years, in thick or thin, having faith, and holding me in your arms. Far closer than blood, bound by faith, pain and care.

The streets are my home. There is a quote from “Blue Bloods,” that I love, “Down these mean streets a person must go who himself is not mean, tarnished or afraid.”   I am not afraid, this is where my family is.

Temenos was created, as a religious non-profit, a church for one reason: to be a welcoming place for everyone. Bishop John  Shelby Spong gives a good description of God: “God is not a Christian God, God is not a Jewish or a Muslim God or a Hindu or a Buddhist God. I honor my tradition. But I don’t believe my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.”  Jesus tells us to love God first and to love our neighbor. 

We are called to love without judgment, to treat all equally, and to simply listen. As an old saying reminds us, “No one who has not been in your shoes, should tell you how to tie your laces.”

None of this is easy–but each day we offer ourselves to God anew–and walk following Jesus into Nazareth loving our neighbor!


People are losing homes, stranded, and homeless in the wildfires in Northern California; Refugees in Afghanistan are coming to our country, help with aid where you can, and write or email the President and encourage him not to leave anyone behind.


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Art of Surrender

August 22, 2021


“To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” John 6:63 ff

The past two months have been a time of learning the art of surrender, simply letting go, and accepting that God is always new, always different. The open acceptance of prayer on this journey allows us to be constantly on our way, on pilgrimage, and to understand that the Kingdom of God is the Eternal Now, the “reign  of God.” It is a place where we can live connected to the Real and to the Eternal. The place is the here-and-now, which always feels like nothing, like “nowhere” (now-here), and is where everything always happens!

No matter how much pain suffered, or how we grow more limited as we age, we live in the “here and now”. God is with us, God loves us. And the words of Albert Camus become true: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned there is invincible summer.”

Surrendering our egos, fears, and biases our lives are able to become open to the world around us.

Rather than seeing the yellow smoke, that clouds our skies in the San Francisco area, we see beyond to the wildfires where people are losing their homes, lives are in danger, many are injured, and live in tents and schools. People are afraid. Let us open our hearts, and give to provide support:

The American Red Cross

Salvation Army

United Way of Northern California

And as our government works to bring people to safety out of Afghanistan let us remember our LGBTQI+ brothers and sisters whom earlier this year we hear  of their fate from Judge Gul Rahim:

For homosexuals, there can be only two punishments: either stoning or he or she must stand behind a wall that will fall down. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters high (8-10 feet).”

“Afghanistan already is not a safe place to be LGBTQI+ people,” says Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps LGBTQI+.

Contact your Congresspeople, and the President by email, letter, or phone call. Remind them of their duty to protect LGBTQI+ who have believed for nearly twenty years we would protect them. And give to Rainbow Railroad.

The art of surrendering is hearing the words from I Thessalonians, and trusting in the good times and bad times:

“Our hearts are stirred in memory of all of you who struggle to live a Christian life. With the tenderness of a loving mother and father, we have nurtured you with the truth. Your faithful reception to the Word of God fills us with joyful gratitude. With jubilation, we behold your abiding love and constant hope. Your faith in the middle of trials is astounding. Truly you have understood that the words given to you are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. You have received these words with joy and shared them with enthusiasm.

If you remember nothing else of the Good News that has been proclaimed to you remember this: you are dear–dear to God and to the ones who have given you these words of life. The Word of God has been entrusted to you and you have proved yourselves worthy of that trust. Continue to live anointed with the Word of God. Never forget how dear you are.” I Thessalonians 1:5-10.”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Book Review: Warning by Tom Lee

August 15, 2021

Book Review of:


A Novel for the Nuclear Age

By Thomas F. Lee

The Feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56

    The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary symbolizes what Gregory the Great said of St. Benedict’s heart: “his heart expanded so much that all creation could enter into it.”  And so did Mary’s heart.

    This feast, in this age of cheapening humanity, says loud and clear that the human body is important. It speaks what a great heart, with the presence of God dwelling within, can do in the world.

    Mary is the dawn and splendor of God, she is the consolation, and hope of people still on the journey.

    In his novel The Warning: A Novel for the Nuclear Age Thomas F. Lee emphasis is upon the preciousness of the earth and environment

    He introduces us to Fr. John, A Benedictine priest, and professor, whose life has centered around teaching. Slowly his eyes are opened to the dangers of nuclear armament and he slowly becomes an activist. During this journey he learns several things:

    1. The institutional church, like all institutions will always side with the status quo, despite the obvious sign of danger around, and will always hide its head from reality, The body of Christ are those who move out into the world and challenge that which endangers life;

2.  The government is made up of people, many of whose main desire is for power, and all are imperfect human beings, and to place the power to destroy the world in the hands of human beings is stupid;

3. The majority of people care for themselves materialistically, ignoring the signs of destruction in their midst.

    At a state-sponsored patriotic rally on a nuclear submarine, we read of Fr. John’s ultimate commitment:

“They paused momentarily at the water’s edge. Suddenly the priest reached inside his coat, while the nuns reached inside their habits. They pulled out what turned out to be small glass bottles, each filled with a reddish liquid. In unison, they threw the bottles against the submarine hull. The glass containers broke almost simultaneously, and their red contents (their blood)  flowed slowly down along the side of the hull, before mingling with the incoming tide. The three knelt and began to pray “peace” and “forgive.” They were then seized and pushed down and handcuffed, and carried away.”

Fr. John awaited trial in federal prison, and one day prepared to celebrate mass for thirty prisoners, and at the same time the President of the United States released nuclear warheads against North Korea and North Korea did the same and we read in conclusion:

“Fr. John began a short homily. At those words, a light shone in through the bars of the prison windows–a light brighter than the Sun, blinding those who reflexively looked toward it. A sound followed the light, a sound far louder than they might have imagined the sound of God’s voice to be. .and then they were gone”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Free copies of Tom Lee’s book are available via  or purchase on Amazon. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.



David and Janet write: (In a letter sent to the IRS):

“Fifty-three of everyone’s tax dollars, go for wars and preparation for wars. Together with our IRS form, we are sending a check of 47% of what we owe made out to the Department of Health and Human Services. We ask you to designate all those funds for health education, and human well-being–and none for killing. . The other 52% which goes for war and killing we are contributing to organizations working for peace and justice, and programs meeting human and environmental needs in the US and around the world.

Instead of paying for war and killing, we are joining together with others to build what Martin Luther King, Jr called the “Beloved Community.” We hope and pray that all the taxes can go to schools, good health care, and housing for all people on earth which will help create a healthy planet for our children and future generations.”

    This is the witness of one San Francisco couple, and so the question is what witness will each of us do in this Nuclear age to prevent the annihilation of all humanity? There are many ways.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Through Deep Waters to New Life

August 13, 2021

Through the Deep Waters to New Life

Joshua 24:1-13

    The primordial journey of the people of God to freedom, across the Red Sea prefigures the experience of baptism. As in the story of Noah, the waters of destruction and judgment become the place of salvation(I Peter 3:20-21: “Baptism. .now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.. “).

    God calls us to step into the swirling waters, to drown our small ideas, our resentments, and narrow hopes to hear again the call of Christ.

    The central tenant of that call is forgiveness. Maya Angelou tells us: “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your self is to forgive.”

    Personally I have learned to forgive, and it is difficult, very difficult when someone hurts you through words or deeds, but forgiveness frees one to give, to love, to care with freedom. Holding grudges is a waste of time. In many ways forgiveness is a selfish act, it makes one feel hellar good. Do it for yourself–and you find a freedom you have never experienced.

    In forgiving we begin to reclaim how chosenness by God as Fr. Henri Nouwen tells us so well:

“The greatest spiritual battle begins-and never ends-with the reclaiming of our chosenness.  Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God ‘s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.”

We are “chosen” by God, and in that chosenness we are called to love one another, and to forgive. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fall Newsletter

August 11, 2021


“Where Jacob wrestled with God!

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164–pay pal


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

    As we prepare to enter the Fall, around us are wildfires, displacing individuals from their homes; people in the City, being evicted by landlords, and thousands of people sleeping on our streets, under our freeways, suffering immensely.

    These past weeks, limited by an injury several things have been learned, which we all need to learn.

    First, we get so busy, and concerned with ourselves, we lose contact with the source of our own existence and have become strangers in our own house. In our busyness, we walk up to a beautiful flower and ask: “What for God’s sake are you doing here? Can’t you get busy somehow?” The flower’s response is “”I am just here to be beautiful for a time?”

    How can we come to that wisdom, that being is more important than doing? Simply to be, staying in contact with our creativity and the grounding of our own life? And in that grounding, the stillness, we come to compassion for our fellow creatures, and the words of Fr. Henri Nouwen rings out to us:

“Through compassion, it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion, we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friend’s eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill we know we could have done it; when they give life, we know we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien; no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.”

    Finally, compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to let our hearts be opened to share hunger, fears, and abandonment.     Compassion calls us to scream with those in misery, to grieve with those who are lonely, to cry with those in tears. Compassions require us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means to be fully immersed in the condition of humanity. To truly live one must be prepared to die to self. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Requirements for Volunteers

A copy of the vaccination certificate.

Always wear a mask and gloves.




Monday, October 4, 2021

Feast of St. Francis

Eucharistic Service of Remembrance

of Homeless Young
Adults Who Have Died this Past Year

Golden Gate Park, across from

Whole Foods

Time: 2:00 p.m.


October 7, 2021


We will begin our weekly witness against the death penalty at noon

Philip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Court House–450 Golden Gate Street


Thanksgiving Day November 25, 2021

We will serve packaged dinners at 2:00 p.m, on Haight Street. They will be purchased from Whole Foods, followed by the Eucharist in Golden Gate Park.


Our thanks to Sean and Le Ann who are doing outreach two times a week, being my feet on the street.



        We are beggars! We depend on your love and kindness for our ministry, please search your hearts to remember the hungry and lonely young adults, and let us be your feet on the ground!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164–pay pal


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

Thank you for your support during these difficult times!



Sewing Love

August 9, 2021

Sewing Love!

“Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love on another. If you love your neighbor you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. .Love does no wrong to others, so fulfill the requirements of God’s law” Romans 13: 8;10


A number of years ago I was asked to teach a course on “empathy”, and as I gathered with the students and my textbooks, I discovered you do not “teach empathy”. One has to experience pain and loss to truly be empathetic.

Studies suggest that empathy arises early in our lives, and from my own experience it does. It was the empathy that I showed at a young age that brought attention to my first District Superintendent, and he gave me my first church. These studies also show that nonstop exposure to violence in the media

numbs our empathy for pain and suffering.

I find that the constant exposure to the pain of the streets, and homelessness numbs the empathy of people. People simply do not see the suffering in front of them.

Pope Francis says this “globalization of indifference” makes us forget what it means to weep with each other.

Even if we have never experienced the loss of home or of having food, we all know what it means to feel alienated, rejected, and alone. It is not a giant leap from there to imagine the horror and pain of sleeping on the street, with nowhere to go, little food, all alone

It is by recollecting our own felt need for both human touch and divine grace, we can nurture hearts full of empathy and compassion–and in the process, draw closer to being a people worthy of God’s benevolent grace. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A Transformed Shining World

August 6, 2021

A Transformed Shining World

Mark 9:2-10

The Transfiguration

The Bombing of Hiroshima


Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration and the Seventy Sixth Aniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

As the Transfigured Jesus looks from the Mount across the world today observes and weeps:

1. Suffering everywhere, from natural disasters to the inhumanity of others;

2. A Pandemic that is killing and wounding people;

3. Wildfires in California that are destroying the lives of people;

4. People who are homeless, alone, and without food on our streets.

He looks at his disciples and calls them to walk with him down the mountain– to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, provide homes for the homeless, bury the dead, and challenge the systems that continue this pain.

And as we follow  Jesus he turns his head in a smile and reminds uswe will be able to hear  his promise and trust ultimately in a transformed and shining world:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:

“See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Abandon All to God

August 3, 2021

Abandon Everything to God!

Matthew 14:22-36New International Version

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.


These are days of much pain, grief, doubt, and feelings of failure. As the emotional and physical pain has come, so has my heart been opened to simply being with people, without judgment. Nothing matters except God, and God only loves.

I am learning to let God love me the way God wants, be it through the hurting of my left side, the pain of surgery in my mouth, the nightmares of a suicide. It is difficult for me to surrender, and trust in God. But each day as I do, I find myself at peace.

And I know that this is a time commitment to my third act of ministry as I follow Jesus into Galilee, no longer worrying about what people think, but simply following and loving each person who comes to me, without reservation. It was rather strange after being beaten up to find no anger towards the young guy, simply compassion and forgiveness. In those moments I felt a love of God, as never before, and I knew we are to love each person no matter what. And so in the days ahead my prayer is  the Prayer for Abandonment of Charles de Foucauld:

Father, I abandon myself into your hands,

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you;

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,

and with boundless confidence, for you are my

I have found that all we have to hold onto is God, and that “On the stormy tossed sea of life all we have is our fiercer loyalty to one another.” Do Gratias! Thanks be to God!



P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164