Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sports and Spirituality Walk Onto a Basketball Court....Grace in the Tenderloin

For those who don't understand the symbiosis that is Sports and Spirituality, I would like to offer this example: the San Francisco Examiner's photo of the week. This image, taken the week of December 14 features a student who attends DeMarillac Academy, the tuition free Catholic school in the Tenderloin. 
I love this image for a number of reasons. For one, it does not reflect what most people associate with the "TL." If asked to describe this neighborhood, children, vibrant colors and play aren't the first words that come to mind. Unfortunately, the harsh realities of homelessness, addiction and bad luck do.

Here we see a young boy, on a court that has been newly remodeled inside Boedekker Park. Named for the founder of St. Anthony Dining Room, is a welcome place for anyone in the neighborhood. Like St Anthony's (which has also been newly remodeled!) this park signifies to me that not all hope is lost. It also indicates to me that the legacy of Fr. Alfred Boedekker, OFM lives on. He responded to the needs of his community. People are often surprised that the Tenderloin is a home to so many children. On this basketball court, children who might be hungry for play and/or the freedoms of childhood find a spiritual home. Not a bad legacy.

My student Kyle, wrote about Fr. Boedekker for an assignment entitled "People of Conscience." You can learn more about this Franciscan Friar here.

Father Alfred Boedekker lived in San Francisco during the early twentieth century, and he saw the hardships many people went through in his community. He decided to take action and do something to help hundreds of people improve the quality of their lives.

He established the Saint Anthony Dining Room and the Saint Anthony Free Medical Clinic. By creating these two establishments, he provided free meals and medical care for people who were struggling financially.

Even today, Boedekker is celebrated for his selfless efforts to help those in need and better his community. He has had a sculpture in the Tenderloin recreation center dedicated to him as a tribute to his accomplishments.
Serving those in the TL since 1950...& not just on Turkey Day

I chose to research Father Boedekker because I remember hearing his name from my Sophomore Retreat. He lived an honorable life helping those in his community, especially people in the Tenderloin. Boedekker's selflessness is something that I would like to imitate in my life. It is very difficult to commit your life to the betterment of others because our natural instinct is to care for ourselves. However, Boedekker overcame this and dedicated his life in the Tenderloin and at St. Boniface to helping others.

Without his works of charity, there would be many people living in poverty struggling to get back on their feet and live better lives. This is what I especially admire about him: he helped hundreds of people, many of whom he never met or received a "thank you", for the most selfless reasons.

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