St. Anthony’s 67th Birthday! 🎂

Today marks St. Anthony’s 67th birthday! Founded in 1950 by Franciscan friar, Fr. Alfred Boeddeker, St. Anthony’s has been providing essential support to San Franciscans living in poverty. Every day, with dignity and respect, we offer thousands of the most vulnerable among us the basics we all need to feel human: a hot meal, fresh clothing, an opportunity to connect with the world. Watch a short clip about Fr. Alfred below. Interested in learning more about St. Anthony’s? Check out a video on our iconic Dining Room or sign up for a volunteer...

“The Great Activity of Our Life is to Love.”

Yesterday marked what would have been the 113th birthday of our founder, Fr. Alfred Boeddeker. Fr. Al taught us that “the great activity of our life is to love,” so our chefs poured their hearts into an extra special meal to honor his memory: 2,600 orders of grilled steak, salad, and garlic fries for our guests. Get a glimpse of the man who started “The Miracle of Jones Street” in this 1954 documentary...

Championship Volunteers

We were excited to spot our long-time Dining Room volunteer Bill Bush in this San Francisco Chronicle piece about SF’s transformation into a basketball town. In the photo, Bill (pictured near the top of the stairs) and the rest of his 1955 University of San Francisco Dons basketball team are welcomed home after their NCAA Championship win. We’re lucky to have Bill and the rest of our all-star volunteer team serving hope daily in our Dining...

This Place is for Us

St. Anthony’s is located in an old San Francisco neighborhood: the Tenderloin. Many view this neighborhood as never changing — it’s always the poorest, toughest grid of streets in this otherwise glorious city. For those who’ve lived here it seems like it’s always changing. Over the decades, various immigrant groups have landed here, gotten their feet under them and then moved on. Old buildings get renovated by a nonprofit housing group; run down parks are resurrected; new restaurants open. Some of these changes scare us. Are improvements to the neighborhood signs of gentrification? Are the all-powerful real estate interests going to claim this scarce and valuable property? Will the poor be driven from one of the last neighborhoods in San Francisco that will have them?  In this past year one of the improvements that has signaled the on-going change of the Tenderloin has been the completion of St. Anthony’s new Dining Room at the corner of Golden Gate and Jones. In some ways it’s the epitome of those two views of this neighborhood. Built by an organization that’s celebrating its 65th anniversary and that was founded by Franciscans who helped establish this city, this new structure speaks of the constant, never changing commitment to those who are poor. At the same time, the new Dining Room reflects change — change that stands against any force that threatens the neighborhood’s future or disregards its residents’ right to remain. This new space and other exciting efforts in the neighborhood proclaim the Tenderloin as a vibrant and caring community in this city. There are many things to celebrate about our new Dining Room. Every day we discover new ways that our new space is enhancing our work: we’re able to provide better meals; we can make better use of the food donations that come in; and more volunteers can engage with our guests. But my most...

A Sister to 1,000 Brothers

Sister Mary Rogers officially retired on June 30, 2015 after a distinguished 15 year career as a drug and alcohol counselor at Fr. Alfred Center.  For thousands of people, she was the first face they saw when making the life-changing decision to seek treatment for their addiction.  For many more, she was a critical link in their journey to remain clean and sober. “If you told me 25 years ago I’d be doing THIS, I’d say you were crazy,” she chuckled.  ‘THIS’ describes the experience of being an 80 year old nun and the only female counselor in a drug and alcohol recovery program for 60 homeless and low-income men. Nearly 39 years ago, Sr. Mary took her last sip of alcohol and never looked back.  At the time, she and her husband Jack checked into a recovery program for alcoholics in Santa Barbara, determined to find their own sobriety.  Two years later, in 1978, Jack died, leaving Sr. Mary widowed, newly sober, and searching for a way forward in life. When I asked, what influenced her to become sober?, Sr. Mary responded with a resounding, “Ugh.  That was so long ago.” After a thoughtful pause, she elaborated and said, “Finally, some part of me surrendered enough to let God in.”  This surrender eventually led her to religious life.  She joined the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1991. Sister Mary first heard about St. Anthony’s from Fr. John Hardin in the late 1990s.  At the time, she was working as the secretary to the Provincial for the Franciscan Friars in Oakland.  She had just completed a Master’s Degree...

Happy Feast of St. Anthony

Happy feast of St. Anthony of Padua. This thirteenth century saint is the namesake of St. Anthony Foundation, and quite understandably so. For one reason, he brought together, in a unique way, the habits of a great friar scholar with a dedicated ministry to the poor in the Italian city of Padua—just as St. Anthony’s founder, Fr. Alfred Boeddeker OFM, a former theology professor, moved to the Tenderloin and started a dining room to feed the hungry. “When people lose their appreciation of the inherent dignity of those who are poor, St. Anthony guides them to our Dining Room.” The story goes that in 1950 Fr. Alfred, frustrated by the daily line outside the friary of hungry folks looking for a meal, knelt in front of the statue of St. Anthony in St. Boniface Church. The statue showed St. Anthony giving a loaf of bread as he did 800 years ago when he reached out to the poor of northern Italy. Fr. Alfred said to himself, “Why don’t you do that?” After pondering the possibilities, Fr. Alfred asked St. Anthony “What should I do?” and the answer came back, “You do it and I’ll help.” And for 65 years now, St. Anthony has helped the friars and their successors serve over 41 million meals to poor and low-income San Franciscans. St. Anthony is known throughout the world as the patron saint of lost things. This devotion arose from a story about how the teacher Anthony thought he had misplaced a book of the Psalms in which he had written extensive notes for the classes that he taught. He prayed that...