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Alfred Boeddeker, O.F.M. (August 7, 1903 — 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.
Father Boeddeker, born in San Francisco, California. He joined the Franciscans in 1921 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.”
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.
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
- "St. Anthony Dining Room: The Loaf Keeps on Multiplying" in American Catholic, October 2005.
- "Saint Anthony’s celebrates founder’s centenary" in Catholic San Francisco, August 15, 2003.
- History of the Franciscan School of Theology.
- History of St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin.
- St. Anthony's Clinic as described by the University of California, San Francisco Medical school.
- St. Anthony Farm website (no longer operated by the Foundation)
- History of Boeddeker Park, Neighborhood Parks Council.
- Photograph of Father Alfred Boeddeker at the dedication and groundbreaking ceremony for Boeddeker Park, named in his honour.
- Boeddeker Park, analysis and commentary, Project for Public Spaces.
- Historical photographs of Father Boeddeker in the collection of the San Francisco Public Library.
- St. Anthony Foundation website