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Brotherhoods "are not simply philanthropic or mutually beneficial associations, but groups of brothers who, desirous of living the Gospel and conscious of being a living part of the Church, seek to practice the commandment of love, which encourages people to open their hearts to others, especially those in need."

-Pope Benedict XVI, Rome, November 10, 2007

The Brotherhood of Penitents of San Dimas is not a ministry or movement, but a family of brothers and sisters who strive to follow Jesus Christ, and, as the Holy Father says, try to practice that commandment our Lord has given us to love God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves.

Aware of the great need for mutual support among men in the Church today, the first group of our brothers began meeting in 2005. From that humble beginning our brotherhood has continued to grow.



The brotherhood is made up of groups (called chapters) of brothers who meet in their own parishes. The dwellings are united by the Council of the Brotherhood, which governs the entire brotherhood, and by their adherence to our Bylaws and the Brotherhood Manual. Our Bylaws have received ecclesiastical approval and the Sisterhood was erected as a private association of the faithful by the authority of the Diocese of Orange, California.

Currently, there are five Brotherhood Chapters in Los Angeles and Orange County, where our brothers meet every week. For major events such as the brotherhood's patronal feast, the annual pilgrimage, or picnic day, all the brothers gather to celebrate together, even with their families.

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Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

Our patron saint is St. Dismas, the good thief in the Gospel of St. Luke: They also brought two other malefactors to be executed with him. When they came to the place called Calvary, they crucified him and the malefactors there, one on the right and the other on the left ... One of the criminals who had been hanged insulted him: "Are you not the Christ? Then save yourself and us!"  But the other answered him, saying, "Do you not fear God, you who suffer the same condemnation?  And we rightly, for we have deserved it by our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong."  And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come with your kingdom."  Jesus said to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23:32-43).

At the end of his criminal life, the good thief found himself dying on a cross next to Christ.  Facing death and judgment, he was overwhelmed with sorrow for his sins and turned in faith to Christ as his Savior.  Our Lord received his repentance and promised to take him to paradise that very day.  St. Dismas is our patron saint because those of us who join this brotherhood realize, as he did, how much we need forgiveness and conversion for our sins.  St. Dismas' example of sincere repentance and Christ's compassion for him inspire us to abandon sin, trust in God's mercy, and hope for our own salvation.


Our bylaws explain that the brotherhood is dedicated to the following purposes:

i. To promote a more perfect life among the brethren by instilling in them the spirit of Christian prayer and penance;

ii. To educate the brothers in the Catholic religion and offer them opportunities for spiritual growth through weekly meetings, formation classes and retreats;

iii. To form bonds of fraternal charity among us brothers;

iv. To evangelize our neighbors by inviting others to join the brotherhood. We have a particular interest in reaching out to those who are far from the Church.  We also strive to evangelize the youth of our families and neighborhoods;  

v. To carry out works of charity by helping the needy according to our possibilities;

vi. To celebrate our religious traditions especially those of Holy Week;

vii. To serve the Church in the parishes in which we gather.





We are a brotherhood of penitents, that is, men dedicated to the practice of Christian penance.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1430-34) teaches that penance is the outward expression of our inner conversion from sin.  The Bible and Catholic tradition identify three main forms of penance: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Our sisterhood practices penance in all of these classic forms.



Every week, the members of each Chapter gather to pray together, especially the holy rosary. In addition, each brother commits himself to pray the rosary and spend time in spiritual reading and meditation every day. In this way we keep our relationship with God alive, and fulfill the wishes of the Blessed Virgin when she asked at Fatima, Lourdes, and many other occasions, that Catholics pray the rosary in reparation for sins and the salvation of sinners.


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The brothers of each chapter organize works of charity. Some chapters are engaged in distributing food to the homeless, making God's love for them visible to the poorest of the poor. Others offer to lead novenas for the deceased, thus exercising a work of spiritual mercy, praying for the dead, and catechizing those who do not know God.  Others pray outside of abortion centers. And charity is not only practiced outside the brotherhood, but within it as well. The brothers support each other in their spiritual and material needs.



The spiritual and catechetical formation of our brothers is a priority of the brotherhood. Once a month the weekly meeting is dedicated to formation talks. Over the course of two years, the talks provide a basic knowledge of the Catholic faith and practical Christian living, doctrine which is firmly based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


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An essential part of our brotherhood are the rich traditions we inherited from our ancestors, such as the processions and other customs of Holy Week, our pilgrimage to San Juan Capistrano, and many others. These traditions will be our legacy for generations to come.


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Retreats form a very popular element of our activities. Every year our brotherhood offers an initiation retreat for new brotherhood candidates in the San Bernardino Mountains. There, in the fresh air, and in a wilderness setting, we devote a weekend to prayer and reflection in the company of good companions. Professed brothers attend a day of reflection in preparation for Lent.


If you are interested in our brotherhood, look on the contact page of this site for a group of brothers that meets near you and visit them. Any Catholic male who has reached the age of eighteen may attend our meetings, and fill out a membership application. Once the application is received and approved by the abode, the applicant begins a period of formation that lasts two years. At the end of this novitiate, the candidate is invited to publicly profess a commitment to the brotherhood. On that occasion he wears the purple scapular of the brotherhood and is recognized as our brother.

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