(function(w,d,s,l,i){w[l]=w[l]||[];w[l].push({'gtm.start': new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0], j=d.createElement(s),dl=l!='dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.data-privacy-src= 'https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtm.js?id='+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f); })(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-TX99J5W');

Franciscan Ministry
Offering Blankets and Coffee, Friar Provides Help To The Neediest on Streets of San Francisco

The late Tony Bennett sang about a city by the bay where “the morning fog may chill the air.”

For San Francisco lovers, the image is a romantic one. But the morning chill means something different for those who live on the streets of the Tenderloin District.

That’s where Brother Andrew Dinegar, OFM, comes in. He will frequently provide blankets, offering those most desperate a respite from the cold, as well as coffee and

doughnuts. After three years of ministry on the ragged streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, a 50-square block area known for homelessness and substance abuse, Bro. Andrew leans on the lessons of St. Francis and Mother Teresa. They taught him that through the poor one can find wisdom and Jesus.

“I don’t HAVE to do this. I GET to do this. Hearing my name on the street is the greatest badge of honor I could have,” he says.


At age 58, Bro. Andrew has spent seven of those years as a friar. But his faith conversion predates his life formally following the way of St. Francis.

He’s precise on the details. The date was March 15, 2003. The time 7:30 a.m. He was working as a volunteer in Washington D.C. for the Missionaries of Charity, the religious community founded by Mother 

Teresa. He was expecting to do light maintenance and custodial work. But God had other plans when he was asked to shave and shower William, a man with AIDS residing at the community’s hospice.

As he shaved William, Bro. Andrew recalls he felt an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence. Other conversion stories feature thunderbolts, or even a quiet light, or, in the case of a biblical prophet, the gentle whisper of the wind. Bro. Andrew felt the presence of the Divine through a dying man who needed help desperately with the most mundane of tasks. It was a long way from how Andrew used to feel. No longer would he look on the homeless on the street, some soaked with their own urine, in a disdainful manner.

“They are losers,” he would tell himself. Pre-conversion, however, deep in his own heart, his disdain hid uneasiness about his own life.

“My heart exploded with God’s love,” he says, and while he’s had his share of ups and downs, William’s presence and the mystical experience it engendered lives on. “It’s a love that’s not personal, it’s from God. I felt a love with William and the poor. God gave me a great chance at life.”

“I couldn’t get enough of serving the poor,” he says about his conversion on that late winter’s day in the nation’s capital more than two decades ago.

That vision has taken many forms since. Today it’s about daily tasks of helping the mission of the St. Anthony Foundation, a Franciscan-inspired agency founded in 1950 to assist the street people of the Tenderloin.

Much of the ministry work is far from glamorous. There’s the early morning blanket and coffee support. Also, “we slice, dice and chop vegetables,” says Bro. Andrew, thanking the lay volunteers and his fellow friars who do many of the tasks. During slack times, Bro. Andrew makes a point of greeting visitors.

Bro. Andrew has learned to beg. He will shop at Walmart for blankets and tarp. He will go into the streets at night. He’s found himself providing coffee to drug addicts who have needles in their calves. He will take a friend he found on the streets out to a local diner every Sunday to talk about anything but the daily grind of the Tenderloin over breakfast and coffee. He also preaches at the local Gospel mission, a Franciscan presence in an evangelical street ministry, where he shares his conversion story to passersby.

Bro. Andrew emphasizes there are no judgements applied in the ministry in the Tenderloin. Those who get help simply have to ask.

This website uses cookies and third party services. Ok