LGBTQ Youth and Spirituality

June 19, 2018

(Matthew Shepherd)


“Myth Brings Understanding and Meaning to Our humanity” (Unknown)

Matthew 5:43-48

Last Thursday night at the Terra Linda High School graduation, a young lady, gave an amazing speech on diversity. She began with a period of silent meditation, for those who have died from racism, sexism, and LGBTQ.  

Each day across this country, and in our state we find LGBTQ young adults being persecuted, killed, and traumatized because of their sexual orientation. This week we celebrate Pride, a time of recognition that being LGBTQ  is a part of our diversity as human beings.

As we look around San Francisco we see churches displaying the Rainbow Flag, but inside there are few young LGBTQ young people and there are reasons:

First our Scriptures, written two thousand years ago, and the theology surrounding them, have been interpreted from a homophobic view point. That view point has permeated Christianity for over a thousand years. It is the prime interpretation in our society now. And will continue to be.

Secondly, the mainline churches have been fighting over LGBTQ rights, and that fight has and is bloody. Our former denomination is in a bloody fight as of now, and it will continue. The ideas, the statements, and the theology that comes out of this is death dealing to LGBTQ  young people.

Thirdly, in those welcoming congregations, LGBTQ youth do not feel welcome. They come into an environment in which sexuality is talked about around primary traditional  lines, where diversity in the various expressions of sexuality–leather, wicca, dual relationships,  etc. are seen as contrary to normalcy. We had a holy union service for a three women, and the words said to us by clergy in several mainline denominations are not repeatable. Congregations are not open to the diverse ways of relating that has come out of the LGBTQ experience, and out of the contemporary journey.

Fourthly LGBTQ youth do not feel welcome because they often feel treated as “the other”. Adults are afraid to work with youth, they are afraid to share their lives, to walk with them as friends, to share their journey. Youth feel set aside. The programs are very superficial, never deal with the real issues of their lives, but are very bland.  It is understandable that adults are afraid because of the fear around being accused of abuse, but the reality is that as Christians we are called to enter into relationships, we are called to walk on the edge. Life is messy, and dangerous.

Fifthly, the organized church as we know it has become less important as a social gathering place. Buildings become empty.  In Amsterdam the great cathedrals are museums, bars, and shops.

Young people find interaction  on social networks, in social groups outside the church, where they can interact without the constraint, of a theology that is narrow and judgmental, and socially destructive.

“Myth Brings Understanding and Meaning to Our humanity” (Unknown). In seminary we had a course entitled: “The Spirituality of Myth,” and it was the course that saved our life for it brought us into seeing Scripture as myth, and not as a literal, historical translation. The myth of Creation, the Exodus, of the Christ, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.  It is a story of God’s love for humanity, a love so intense that Jesus gave his life in order that we might have new possibilities in that love as we live each day of our lives.  It is a story that brings God’ s love in many faces–all expressions of God in life. All who love people, universally, are the expression of that God. Love is the expression.

We have traditional Christians who often want to attend “our mass” in the Park, and we give a watered down excuse. Our “mass” is simply sitting around and letting people talk about their lives. Sharing, and talking. These youth have been hurt so much by the traditional Church and Christians who come to the Park trying to save their souls with a homophobic, theology of  “come to Jesus” and all will be well, as they starve, fight for their very existence.

Many have PTSD from violence, abuse, homophobic backgrounds. They are judged for their life styles, for their reasons for being on the street, and have been crucified by the traditional church in so many ways.

People want answers, the only answer is that in choosing Jesus our lives can be transformed into moving away from homophobia, allowing ourselves to enter into the lives of young people, in such a way we can walk with them on equal ground, and listen in their pain. We cease becoming the “other”. We meet them where they are expecting nothing in return. We move from our places of comfort into their world. We share of what we have, without expectation of return. Our biases, prejudices, disappear and we walk in the myth of Jesus, who loves all.

We are called to live in love–as along as all we do rings out in the words of Jesus–“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, that is what matters.

For us ‘the church” are people of all beliefs, or no belief, people of any race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,  who give of themselves to others, who take chances to make life better, who walk with people as equals. The Church are those who live out the life of love to everyone. Our judgments we put aside, and walk in giving, caring, and listening.

This Pride we look at our life and we are reminded of the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

Our path is that of Pride, diversity, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and loving each other as equals. We invite you to move out in Pride.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA. 94164


We still need volunteers for our Accessibility Booth at Pride



No One Notices

June 12, 2018

No One Notices

Matthew 5:13-16

“Unfortunately,  no one notices your tears.

No one notices your sadness.

No one notices your pain.

But everyone notices your mistakes.”

This quote is one of the truest quotes I have found in a long time. It says it like it is. In the last few months people have never noticed my tears, pain but they notice my mistakes, and I make a hundred mistakes to my one good thing.  I have hundreds, if not thousands I am a friend to, but have probably one or two if any, that I see as my friend.

There is a quote I picked up in New Orleans that says: “A friend is one who sees through your act and enjoys the show,” and few people see through my act. They run. To enjoy the show is to see a person very wounded, very vulnerable, and who sees in that vulnerability and woundedness the goodness, the softness, and the giving. To see them as a person who makes a hell of a lot of mistakes, but who cares for you regardless.

It is easier to see people’s faults and mistakes because we do not have to look at our own, and it easier to not see their vulnerability since it would make us look at our own. I listened to a homeless person this morning crying in emotional pain, and I see myself in that person, it is not easy, but is how we show our humanness.

The “ism’s we use: ageism, sexism, racism, etc. are a means of categorizing people. it puts them down, and is a way of control and manipulation. They are a means of showing a person as faulty.  When someone tells me I am “not getting any younger” in trying to help me, that ends any chance of them helping me. I have interviewed people and they have used an “ism’ and that ends the interview.   That is ageism period. When someone makes critical remarks of the age of the friends who have helped me more than anyone, I nail them to the wall, that is ageism. Using “ism’s” is a way of finding fault with people, and making them easier to understand and handle. It is a put down, it is wrong.

My vulnerability is all over the place right now. I am unsure of myself, my work, feel like I hurt my friends, I feel like I have no friends most of the time,  I think of suicide, and running away, and I hear about my mistakes. I had to rearrange my funeral service because a person in charge of it felt it was not “appropriate” to have certain people in it and my liturgy was not formal enough. It showed my lack of formality. Among other criticisms. I thought  you  must want me dead, and I also thought I can not do anything right. I am fu’k up even with my own service.

One of my best friends told his mom that “River never judges me,” and frankly that is the truth. I have never judged him,  I see his goodness, his sweetness, and the good he does and is capable of. I will never judge him. There will be plenty of people who will judge, not me.

“Unfortunately,  no one notices your tears.

No one notices your sadness.

No one notices your pain.

But everyone notices your mistakes.”

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


For Everything There Is A Time!

June 11, 2018


Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Everything Has Its Time

“3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. “

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

There is a time and place for everything in life.We are born, we live, we grow up screaming and protesting, and we scream and protest all of our life looking for meaning and purpose and a place to be and live in comfort.

In looking at our own life we have lived the life our parents dreamed of, but just in a different way. They raised us to go to college, to graduate school, and be a professional, and that is what we have done and am. Life has thrown it’s curves, and we have simply walked around them  and frankly have done what our parents would have wanted. My parents were proud of our  call to ministry it was a dream come true to have a son serve the church, and dreamed of us serving in a large church and even be a bishop,  but would have been just as proud of the work we do now, serving in the greater parish of the streets, and being a bishop on the margins.  Life sends its curves, we adjust, we grow or we wither an die. From grapefruit we make orange juice. Our parents were good parents who believed in us and raised us to live our dream.

People look at the way we live and either joke about it or praise our  choice of simplicity, and our  sacrifice. The truth is our parents lived in a small house, drove used cars, gave most of their money away, traveled, and enjoyed life–we came by that from them. It is our call, but a call that we inherited. Like them when we travel we stay in good motels and hotels, eat at great restaurants, and have fun, but live simply and give most of our earnings away. We have had the best medical treatment that money can buy in the past months. Even the time we were  on the street we made good money, (illegally), and lived well. Over all we have lived a productive life–if you see living as a capitalist as productive.

In the past months as we have seen homelessness increase–with no real help–have met doctors, lawyers, all kinds of professionals, who are homeless because of mental illness, and so on, and see so many who are where they are because of an economy that rewards people  who play the corporate game, and shuns people who do not fit into the places they are expected to, and those who have suffered abuse from poverty, drug use, and  we have come to understand the words of Jesus throughout the Gospel which is proclaimed to the disenfranchised, and while we find hope in those words, also live in a sense of despair. They do not bear fruit, people suffer, live in poverty, mental illness, on the streets. Sometimes those words  seem like the “opium of the masses.” Believing that ultimately the reign of God will be fulfilled, seems really like living a lie, frankly it seems like bull-sh’t.  It is kind of hard to look to fulfillment in the reign of God when that seems endless. People suffer, and hurt now.

In the last year we have suffered a sense of despair in people. Social media brings out the worst, the racism, the disconnected, the homophobia, the lack of being connected. and the pain and futility of loneliness. There is a lack of being connective, and we see that in those who have money, and power. We hear over and over from good people they have few real friends, while they have money, a great place to live, but it gives no meaning, no purpose, they remain empty. We see people with everything materially commit suicide. It is real despair, real pain and suffering from not having friends who care, and can  talk to. Not having meaning in life.

Dom Augustine Guillerand once wrote: “God will know how to draw glory even from our faults. Not to be downcast after committing a fault is one of the marks of true sanctity.”

We hope this is true, because we are judged by our  faults, little things, without even talking to us. It is endless.
We are sent text messages, Face book messages, and so on, and am reprimanded, and put down, when the majority of the time we are misread, or people do not know the context. This is endless some days, to the point we do not look at emails, or read texts.

When we talk to someone verbally context and understanding comes some much easier, we get bits and pieces by email and texts. One of our friends has told us that he has learned that one ‘fault” does away with all the good, and in truth it does. We know nothing about redemption.  There is an “I funny” comic that says: “Forgiveness is like tofu,” and it is. We see forgiveness as weakness, we demand perfection out of everyone, and when that fails we turn away people and move on failing to look at the log  in our own eye as we see the spot in our neighbor’s eye.

As Jesus taught us forgiveness is the key to being human, to opening our hearts to one another, to caring for one another, and providing for one another. Without forgiveness we are back to our early evolutionary stages.

We  have people on death row, serving life sentences, and shorter sentences, and people who have hurt others deeply, that we share the Guillerand quote with, for in all of our faults there is hope as we can  turn towards good and care for others. It may take years, but there is the hope of redemption and new life.

There is always hope.  We believe that with all of our heart–otherwise we would not say it, and we take the crap and hatred for saying it.

Personally we are in the  twilight zone. We have done our best, and the question is what else is there? Why keep on trying?   Why keep on struggling?

And the words of I Corinthians sum up what holds us at the moment, and will hold us  into eternity:

8″ Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Fr.River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


June 10, 2018


Mark 3:20-35

There has been a video on Facebook of a really young boy, 10 or 11,  who supposedly was trying to break into  a car being confronted by a large man, who is scary even for me. The man is calling the police, who apparently never came, and the young boy is smarting off to him and pushes him the man knocks him down. The responses don not reflect the attitude of an enlightened society:

1. “Funny how River Sims is a big Catholic one of the cruelest of religions i;n the history of the world for centuries.”

River Sims follows Jesus of Nazareth the one who calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves and welcomes little children unto him, the  church is a human institution, created by humans.

2. “I would B slap the little kid”.

3. “River Sims take off the rose colored glasses, children like that grow into dangerous adults. I am going to guess that by the time he is 15 he will be in juvie.”

Youth, any of us, become who we see they are. Show love, equality, and see where that goes, it works.

4. “The kid was punching him first.”

5. “Amazing that some larger person let him get that far.”

Bishop William Alexander once commented:  “If you are truly catholic, as Christ himself is catholic then we must have a church broad enough to embrace within its communion every living creature.”

Jesus was called “mad” today because he called people to break out of their cultural labels and tribes.  The spirituality of Jesus embraces everyone in the spirit of love.

It is in that spirit that we should look at this young boy, and see him for who he is: first of all he is young boy, whose mind is not fully developed and will not be for many years, and sees the world from a black and white perspective and not seeing the wrong in what he is doing, but as something in which he is having fun. Youth often see things in the moment, and as a means of having fun, and  they have no conception of the consequences. Teenage drivers drive fast, they find so much fun in that–but no sense of the possible consequences, their minds are not there yet.

Secondly, for an adult to hit a young boy is abuse, regardless of the circumstances, pure, and unadulterated abuse.

Secondly, to push any one in a corner is setting yourself up for difficulty.  Friends do that to me and they find I become very difficult.

Thirdly, rather than meet the young man from your level of power, meet him on his own, talk to him, and in the calmness more will be accomplished. You will come to see exactly what he is a boy.

Fourthly, our remarks reflect our own inner turmoil, our own inner difficulties, when we point one finger we are pointing four at ourselves, we need to look at ourselves.

Fifthly our society has broken down in communication, we use Facebook and social media to express ourselves rather than talking to one another. Our youth have little contact on one on one any more, it is all social media, we need to have contact, to show love, to spend time with each other, provide care, compassion, and see the society that develops.

People tell us  that the internet shows our true nature, and that we will always respond with our animal instinct. But I believe that in living in Jesus of Nazareth our lives can be transformed into divine love. Yesterday was the
Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to one of her titles I would add “Comforter to those who love until their heart breaks.”

The Velveteen Rabbit is a book about a stuffed rabbit who becomes real through being worn out by human suffering and care.  Let us seek to be the Velveteen Rabbit, let us wear our hearts our without judgment, walking with people where they are.

I  work with a young man.who was  16,  when he   committed murder. He  is now 33. One night he knocked me down in the a Park in while I was doing outreach, and several hours later murdered a gay man.  I advocated for him at his trial, and have worked with him through the years. It took him years to see what he has done was wrong, and part of that is that his mind was still developing, and of the abuse that he had been through as a young male. J has come to grasped the catastrophe of the murder, he is working through it, and is coming out a guy who has maturity. Nothing is black and white.

Maturity is looking at yourself, and coming to terms with your own wrongs, and seeking redemption. We all have that capability if we are given the grace to do it. Every one deserves a chance.

Let us look around us and hear Jesus say: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” and that is to “Love  your neighbor as yourself.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Self-Piercing Love

June 8, 2018

Self-Piercing Love

Ephesians 3:8-19, John 19:33-37

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and what we believe  this means is that the water and blood flowing from the side of Jesus is the union of divine and human love.  And in that union human love becomes divine when we give it without reservation, without judgment, and with complete and utter compassion as we become one with those we love.

In six days there will be a graduation in Marin. It is bitter-sweet as we find gifts, wrap them and prepare to give them on that day. It is bitter-sweet because one of the graduates demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate to me the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in his love towards  us in the past months of pain, and struggle, and the others have in their own way. They are leaving, things will change, but their love will remain. On my arm we have a tattoo with a sword, two names, under it,  and  “Homies” 2018, they have been our  homies–our two most loyal and best friends,  and have been the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to me. we  want to remember them, as they fade in to the winds of time.

When we  first came to San Francisco someone suggested we have tattooed on our  body the names of the youth we have had funerals for–and if we had done that our  body would be covered. We remember the thousands, one by one, our  heart bleeds for them, and there are nights their faces come to us. Last night a nineteen year old died from a stabbing, we are working with his parents today, and we are crying, and hurting, but this is what the Sacred Heart of Jesus means==to enter into the lives of others as Jesus did.

We can never avoid suffering, there is so much suffering on Facebook, so much anger, from that suffer, and when we enter into that suffering with the divine love of Jesus, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, their is still pain, but you find much joy.

Carlo Carretto in I, Francis, describes in his words of St. Francis, The Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“Only naked human beings, as naked as possible, can escape the ravages of time, and are able to place themselves before the nakedness of the Gospel, and make it their own.”

The “nakedness of the Gospel” is to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves,” to love with the love of Jesus who laid down his life for people, and continues to suffer with us. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


God and Neighbor

June 7, 2018

God and Neighbor Time

Mark 12:28-34

Today, I think of Sean, who volunteered once a week during his senior year in high school. He has just gotten his first job, and has started a non-profit named: “Give A Lunch: Make A Friend.” He simply makes two lunches away and gives one away every day, not to a stranger, but to a person–a neighbor–he encounters and calls by name. Sean encourages every one he knows to do the same.

If we simply look, listen, and sit without judgment we will come to face with ourselves in each person. In each hand that I hold, that suffers from homelessness, depression, drug abuse, loneliness, and broken, homeless or not, I see all of us. Recently someone asked a person on the street if I was that “priest” and his reply was, “No he is one of us.” We are all the same.

In looking at ourselves in the face, the words of Carl Jung ring true:

“That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ–all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among  them all, the poorest of the all beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself-that these within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness–that I myself am the enemy who must be loved–what then?”

We need to look our selves first before we judge others, it would really make our lives and those of others different, take it from one who knows, very personally.

Fr. River Damien Sims,

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Ultimately, I Believe!

June 6, 2018

Ultimately I believe!

Mark 12:18-27

The Sadducee’ s argue with  Jesus over life after death and divorce, and Jesus basically ignores their questions, and answers opaquely. He knows this debate takes away from the reality of the pain of people in their daily lives.

I have been having a messaging conversation with people in my high school graduation class about our up coming reunion. They are asking all sorts of questions about vacation plans etc. And they talk of going to Bran-sen,etc with their families and their friends from high school. Usually I simply do not answer or give a vague answer, but I thought just once, just be honest and maybe I would not hear from them again and so I said, “Let’s see in early winter I went to Amsterdam with two of  my eighteen year old friends and we had a blast, and in April to Mexico with them as well, again another blast, and have a road trip planned with two of my eighteen year old friends to Tijuana this summer. Last night I was out late doing needle exchange, sitting with a bunch of kids who were  doing drugs, and just hanging out until 3:00 a.m. We simply hung out as friends, no preaching, no judgment, just friends.

I grew up in a southern town where I was a straight edge, I was far from conservative,but kept it to myself, played the game, questioned my sexuality, but I got a girl pregnant, while that put me on the outside as a “sinner” for a while, that took care of doubts about my sexuality, I played it up to the hilt. My parents bought me a blue 1963 mustang, an antique,  in top shape, so I was popular. The reality is that I was never so lonely in my life, I thought of suicide a lot. Surrounded by “friends”, but never my real self.

I went to college, seminary, and was a United Methodist pastor, where again I was Mr. straight edge, and played the role. And than I had no choice and was forced to confront all of that sh’t.

Those years shaped me, and have effected me psychologically, even now. I have a friend who came out as gay, and never could go home again, a nice kid, really a nice and kind kid.

Even though I am now true to myself the insecurities still remain, I lose friends over who I am, and I struggle with friendship,  I struggle all the time, I doubt,  and never really feel secure, but I have come to experience Jesus as the One who transcends all barriers and whose presence is sustaining.

We need to look at ourselves, at how we relate, interact, and our past, and see if we are transmitting that past in our anger, in our doubts, and if we are hurting others. The Gospel I preach,and  I try to live, and I will die for teaches us that it is in love of all, that we find life. That is the call.

I am not going back to any reunion, god I would have to be drunk for two days, instead I am going to have fun with my friends here, with my kids in the Park and the Tenderloin.  And when they ask for a photo to publish I am going to send them one in a short sleeve clergy shirt with all my tattoos! 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A Taxing Getaway

June 5, 2018


Mark 12:13-17

Robert Kennedy

“What we need in the United States is not division. .not hatred. . but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who suffer within our country, whether they be black or white.”

There is a quote that speaks to me by Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Last night late I was called out to see a person who has a history of abuse that goes back years. The anger that is contained, and stirred is destroying this persons life. We talk about forgiveness, and letting go, and this person still holds on.

I received an email from, what we found out is a fake email account, threatening my life last night as well, and this person describes how he or she is going to get in my building and cut my throat because I am different–and this person knows the building. None of us are different–ultimately we are going to be simply a bag of bones.

I was supposed to be gone the next two weeks, but stayed to go to a high school graduation and my friend is concerned I am not putting business first, and gets concerned I am too generous, and all that bull shit.

I am staying because for me being present is an act of care on my part, for a life time event,  this is an ending for him, and frankly I have no idea where he will be in a few months, and I am not sure where I will be,  so I am simply wanting to walk with him on this final lap, and enjoy the moment and him while I can. Endings are bitter sweet.

The same reason I went to a birthday party the other night. In a few months these guys are going their separate ways, frankly I would rather have stayed home.

The wisdom that I have found through the awful pain of the past years is that we need to put people first, Jesus is saying the same thing when he puts money aside–it is not about the money, it is about God and people.

Robert Kennedy in his quote above speaks to us loud and clear, put people first, put aside your ideology, and care about people, and all will fall into place. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A Liberating Reality

June 3, 2018

A Liberating Reality

“But then, little by little, I began to understand, as never before, that he was present in the emptiness, in the waiting.” Carlo Carretto

Yesterday I had a meeting with a therapist who has been evaluating me for the other work I do, and knowing therapists I never know where they are going to come down, especially with me. He was very complimentary, compassionate, and understanding.

He said what he has observed is that “You have two strengths and a great gift. First of all you are resilient. Your life has not been easy, and your experiences would knock most people down, but you get up and keep going, and I believe that comes from your strong faith in God. God is not just a belief, he is real and walks with you, and you do not expect him to deliver you, but simply to walk with you.  And he is a God of love.

And your gift, is a powerful gift, I have seen few people with your gift of walking with adolescents. And I have seen that in your talking of the two who are your two best friends, and the two  you trust more than any one else in your life. You have made no bones about that fact to me. They are your best friends, period. I have seen that, and have heard others talk of that in your work.  I also have heard, and have seen the great sacrifices you make, for example co-signing a lease with four college students you did not even know. That is a gift that is powerful in your work.”

I have been reflecting over these words, and he is right. I do not think of my life as being difficult, hard, but that is the resilience he talks about. To me I am just living life. At the moment it is not much fun, it is actually hell some days,  but oh well, it can not be fun  all the time.

My parents died young, I was kicked out of my original church just for raising questions, on the street and a prostitute, have been shot at, stabbed, threatened, and so on, and to me it is just a part of life.

A friend of mine once told me that a scientific study has shown that you lose your resilience as you get older, and I realized that you lose it when you make excuses. Resilience comes from believing you have to change to survive. I have had enemies who always under estimate me, when I continue standing. And that comes from my faith in Christ, who  sustains me in my worst times and worst fears.   In the Christ who loves us no matter what, and it is in love that he calls us, a love that is all giving, all giving.

My gift, I suppose it is a gift, or I have never grown up. My two buddies are not eighteen to me, they are the one’s who have loved me, taken care of me, and walked with me. They are my equals and always have been. We fight, we argue, I think they hate me sometimes, but they stay with me.  Tonight I was at an eighteen year old’s birthday party, and got in a fight over absolutely nothing with one of the guys, we argued, fought, and laughed. I was not his elder, just his friend.  One who is a close friend gave me a ring his girlfriend had given him and was too small for him.  People evaluate me, judge me over my relationships with adolescents, and I walk in their world, I live in their world most of the time,   and in the last year, I have learned not to care, it is who I am for whatever reason.

Carlo Carretto has said: “But then, little by little, I began to understand, as never before, that he was present in the emptiness, in the waiting.”

And in the past year I find Christ present in the emptiness, the waiting, the rejection, the loneliness. 

In the last week I have had two people suffering from severe pain from depression and rejection, crying out for God to save them, to take away their pain, and they come to me and all I can do is sit with them, listen, and encourage them to take it minute by minute.

It has become a liberating reality to me to simply accept the fact that I am human, with all of my spots, wrinkles, and that God is the redeeming presence.

My journey is sitting in the emptiness, and I invite you to sit in your own emptiness, experience it, not run away from it, but experience it.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Peniel, June,

June 1, 2018


“Where Jacob Wrestled With God and Survived”


Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124 (pay pal)

June, 2018—Pride Month—“Generations of Strength” and the Season of Pentecost

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


Journal of An Alien Street Priest

The season of Pentecost issues in with a song of love, from The Song of Songs “Set me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is strong as Death, passion as relentless as Sheol. The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of Yahweh himself. Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown.”

For the coming of the Holy Spirit signals that all of life is loved by God in Christ.  When all spoke in one language it signaled the unity of all humanity and the call of all who follow Jesus to go forth as one to love every creature on earth. It is not with a soft emotional love, but with a fierce love encompassing each person and creature seeking to create community in the midst of differences, anger, and hate.

Christianity grew as a result of a love that created communities that shared everything with each other, that served people in the midst of plagues, wars, and places where humanity was hurting at the cost of their lives. Christians brought love, where there was no love. They bore witness with their lives. They stood with strength, they stood with faith in the Risen Christ. Love was as strong as death, and in the face of death, love prevailed. Jesus, walked, talked, lived and died through them!

We have seen flashes of that love in people like Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, and we see flashes of that love in all who reach out to the homeless, to those who meet those who suffer from illness—pushed away, hidden. We see flashes of that love in all who recognize our humanity as being  one—not separated by age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender—we are human beings struggling on this journey of life.

We see this love in those who seek to share their wealth, until all are equal  in health care, housing, in acceptance. Wealth, money, does not separate but is seen as that which enables all to be equal and cared for.  The Kingdom of God is present here, and now!

The presence of the Holy Spirit tells us:

“There is only one Commandment: that we are to love. There is only one Gospel: that we are loved. Between these truths we live, and risk, and are transformed.”

Deo Gastritis! Thanks be to God!

San Francisco Pride – Generations of Strength, June 23-24, 2018

This year LGBTQ Pride will be June 23-24, on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24.  Temenos will be in charge of the accessibility area. Recently we were referred to as a “one man show,” we have never been a one man show. Each year volunteers, young, and old, work to provide care and support for those who have difficulty in accessibility of the Pride program. We need volunteers, please contact  and join us.

Weekly Meals

We seek to serve one weekly meal on the Haight and on Polk, but the reality is that Father River is unable to lift anything more than five pounds. That will continue indefinitely and in fact it may be permanent. We have been very lucky to have our best friend Jacob assist in the meals, but he is now away.

Volunteers are needed to give six hours a week in preparation, packing, and serving the meals.  We ask that the six hours be your major priority.

The meals have never been our focus, our focus is  pastoral care—hospital and jail visits, sitting with people and listening, and walking with them in their moments of crisis, we continue to provide socks, and snacks, we continue to advocate, and administer the Sacraments.

So the meals are not a priority, but are a great witness, and an opportunity for volunteers to enter into the lives of people who live on the street.


World Vegetarian Festival

In Cooperation with the Christian Vegetarian Association

October 27, 2018–10:00 a.m;–6:00 p.m.

San Francisco County Fair Building

1199 9th Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94122






As we enter the Summer of the year, our needs have been met, barely.  We have given away 50 plus thousand pairs of socks, our costs for food, tickets home, etc., have risen 50 percent.  We are always saying “no” more than we say “yes.”

The heart of what we do is our pastoral ministry.  It is sitting and listening as one young man talks of how he feels so low, because he is homeless, and everything he tries fails; one talks of how the city continually kicks him out of his sleeping place, throwing away his belongs, and of his feelings of fear and mistrust; another talks of his sexual abuse; one young girl talks of her fears and her sexual abuse, and so on.

We walk with hundreds each month. With some we celebrate the Sacraments, but mostly we listen, and the bread of life is broken in the words spoken.

So we beg on our knees for your gifts, that they may be turned into the Word made flesh in the lives of our homeless young people.

Rumor has it that Father River is on his last legs—I would not count on that—I have a lot more miles to go, and we need your support.


Checks to:

Temenos Catholic Worker, P.O. Box 642656, San Francisco, CA 94164








Congratulation to Our Graduates—Who Have
Supported Us This Past Year!


Terre Linda High School, 2018



Matthew Volkman-Lasky— Most  Faithful Friend, Confident,
Truth Teller, Hard Worker!


  Kevin Lechner, Friend, Supporter, and a
Great worker!

Ethan Wales—Friend, and Supporter


Winston Ortiz

Friend and Supporter







As we write this section we feel much grief because it signifies these friends, who have walked with us are moving out into the world, and we wish them well!





Now May God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you now and forever more!








Now May God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you now and forever more!




Today the Gospel is from Matthew 11: 11-26, and Jesus remarked to his disciples who noticed the dead fig tree, which symbolized Israel, “Have faith in God. . .I say to you who ever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heat and believes this will happen.”


This morning as I was eating in the cafe across the street I observed one homeless individual, talking to himself, and stripping his clothes off, four others going through the garbage cans looking for food. I sat there and ate my find meal, just watching, thinking of my day, my self, with out caring.


The dead  fig tree symbolized the death of Israel because her faith had become cold and stale, without caring for others, accept the maintenance of itself.  In the same way I thought of myself. I feed the homeless, I listen to them, I walk with them, and yet, I sit and observe, without caring. The question I raise is where is my faith.


That is the question all of us should raise as we walk the streets and see the problems and difficulties people have on the street, as we move among out friends, and fail to observe their pain, and find ourselves living in the world of texting, social media, and simply not caring.


Let us raise that question today and everyday.