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Evicted nuns try to win over Mission NIMBYs

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Some Mission neighbors not feeling charitable toward soup kitchen

The condo building at 1930 Mission.
The condo building at 1930 Mission, where the sisters of the Fraternite Notre Dame hope to open a new soup kitchen.

It’s been a hell of a year to be a nun in San Francisco.

The local sisters of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth, a French charitable religious organization with an American headquarters in Chicago, lost their Tenderloin soup kitchen at the beginning of the year after the landlord hiked their rent.

It seemed the tale would have a happy ending after millionaire self-improvement guru Tony Robbins (of all people) stepped in to provide financial relief, allowing the nuns to buy a new place near 16th and Mission.

But now Mission Local reports that they’re still up against some neighborhood NIMBYs who are resisting their attempts to open the new kitchen for fear that, well, homeless people might frequent it.

The sisters’ longtime location on Turk Street.
Adam L Brinklow

The sisters hoped to open their new doors back in April, but ran into red tape. Since then, some residents at their new building at 1930 Mission have dug in their heels with complaints about quality of life and property values.

The Planning Commission will have a hearing about the new kitchen locale in January.

In an odd wrinkle in the ongoing drama, the impoverished sisters work for a religious order that seems to have access to a remarkable amount of capital.

In 2015, the Fraternite Notre Dame tangled with the city of Chicago about plans to build a multi-million dollar convent that would have included a nursing home, winery, commercial kitchen, and school complete with dormitories.

Chicago’s ABC affiliate reported on the San Francisco-like development fight in the Windy City that pitted nuns against neighbors and City Hall.

In the past, FND has not answered our questions about how that Chicago project might have been funded and whether those resources could now be redirected to people like Sister Marie Valerie and Sister Marie Benedicte here in San Francisco.

For the record, whatever the books look like for FND’s main office, the relative neediness of the sisters working in the kitchens (who fed hundreds of people a day in the Tenderloin year after year) seems entirely legitimate.

Even the Chicago nuns needed to raise money from the public to fix their broken boilers. And no amount of money could cut through San Francisco red tape now regardless.