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 footage.
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? read more…
Sister Mary (left, as if that isn’t obvious) with Harld, a Danish volunteer from the UPS company.
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.
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.