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Father Alfred Boeddeker (1971)

Alfred Boeddeker, O.F.M. (August 7, 1903 as Anthony Boeddeker — January 1, 1994) was an American Franciscan friar who is best known for having founded humanitarian programs to aid the poor and marginalised in the San Francisco Bay Area. These programs, named by Father Boeddeker for Saint Anthony of Padua, include the St. Anthony Dining Room (1950), the St. Anthony Free Medical Clinic (1956), and the St. Anthony Farm, 315 acres (1.27 km2) near Petaluma in Sonoma County, California. The dining room and medical clinic are part of the St. Anthony Foundation.



Anthony Boeddeker was born in San Francisco, California. He joined the Franciscans in 1921 as brother Alfred and was ordained a priest in 1927. He studied theology at the Santa Barbara Seminary and pastored at the St. Rafael Church in Goleta, California. From 1930 to 1933 studied in Rome, Italy. After his return from Rome, he taught for fifteen years at the Franciscan School of Theology at the Mission Santa Barbara.

Boeddeker was selected to start a Catholic university in Hankow, China. In preparation for this assignment, he enrolled in a graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley to study Mandarin, Japanese and Russian languages and Chinese history and politics. The Hankow plans were cancelled, however, after the Chinese Civil War of mainland China in 1949. Father Boeddeker was then appointed pastor of St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, California, where he remained for the rest of his life. Not far from this church, two of Boeddeker's sayings are prominently displayed on the walls of the St. Anthony Dining Room on Jones Street:

  • “The great activity of our life is to love.”
  • “I see God as one act—just loving, like the sun always shining.”


Singers of the Street perform in Boeddeker Park, August 2016.

A park and recreation center named after Boeddeker is located in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. The recreation center features the sculpture Redding School, Self-Portrait, (4 ft. x 16 1/2 ft. x 2 1/4 in.) which was created as a tribute to Boeddeker by artist Ruth Asawa with assistance from children at Redding Elementary School. The piece, a bas relief wall mural, consists of a portrait of Boeddeker surrounded by children and scenes from San Francisco, including animals, street cars, cars, houses, airplanes and birds. The mural is made of glass fiber reinforced concrete and is framed with a plain concrete border. Children from the school created images with pastry dough which were then added into the mural. The piece was surveyed in 1993 by the Smithsonian Institution's Save Outdoor Sculpture! program and was described as needing conservation treatment.[1]

Further readingEdit

Hartmann, Madeline. The Man behind the Miracle: the Story of Alfred Boeddeker, O.F.M. Fort Bragg: Lost Coat Press (2000). ISBN 1-882897-40-4


  1. ^ "Redding School, Self-Portrait, (sculpture)". Save Outdoor Sculpture, California, San Francisco survey. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 24 September 2011.

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