Welcome to San Damiano Retreat

The premier retreat center in the East Bay

San Damiano is a sanctuary of transformation for people of different faiths and backgrounds. The peace and beauty of our gardens and spacious grounds offer a serene place where individuals, groups, and organizations, (both religious and non-religious), may reflect on new insights…new choices… new decisions.


  • Inspiring retreats for spiritual growth
  • A Retreat Center for meetings and conferences
  • Private retreats and directed private retreats
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Daily Eucharist
  • A peaceful environment of natural beauty to rest and renew

 “Your Warmth and Hospitality Are So Appreciated”

What else do people say about San Damiano?

About the staff… The staff at San Damiano is above and beyond any expectations. We were so well cared for and the kitchen staff helped us in so many ways. To the kitchen staff – THANK YOU! You are the best. Kateri, your organizational skills are awesome. You help us with such graciousness and with kind spirit. Your warmth and hospitality are so appreciated and inspiring.

About the Retreat Presenters… Paula D’Arcy never disappoints when there. God has so gifted her and she has been willing and able to share with us. I’m grateful for everyone at San Damiano for maintaining the connection with her and inviting her back. I look forward to the next time she is there. The presenter [Clare Ronzani] offered a variety of ways to enter into prayer – it has been the best retreat experience I have ever had.

About our environment… Thank you for sharing your home and garden as a place for me to heal, grow, and enjoy the community.

About gratefulness… The people who built the retreat center and continue its legacy are held in our hearts in a special way. Being on top of that hill and in the sanctuary of nature is just – well there is nothing like it. For all of this and so much more, I am truly graced and grateful. Can’t wait for God to reveal when I’m supposed to be there next. San Damiano impressed me deeply. It was like drinking from a well of beauty, abundance, peace, and great joy.

Tulips March 2014 (cr&rs)2014 THEME…
Embracing A Joyful Faith

“I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11) Jesus’ intention is that our faith in Him and God be joyful, as He is joyful. We see examples of St. Francis’ joyful faith in the way he lived. Joy overflowed in him everyday for God, others and creation. As this year progresses, may you be inspired to look with joyful faith at your life’s journey through the examples of Jesus and St. Francis. We invite you to set aside the time and San Damiano will provide the place.


… is to provide a peaceful environment of natural beauty where people of all faiths and backgrounds may seek spiritual renewal and growth. In the spirit of Sts. Francis and Clare and guided by the Franciscan traditions of joy, hospitality, compassion, peace and simplicity, we offer contemporary and challenging retreats and programs in response to the changing needs of God’s people.

Let Us Host Your Event

Yes, yes, and yes! San Damiano is available as a conference and retreat center and many groups take advantage of our space for these gatherings:

- Training & Team Building Workshop
- Management Off-Site Seminars
- Executive & Corporate Retreats
- Strategic Planning
- Business and Professional Meetings
- Board Retreats

The Conference Facilities page has all the information you need to get your “foot in the door!” Here is a sampling of some of the groups that come:

- John Muir Hospital Chaplains
- Sandia National Lab
- Western Regional Interfaith Organization
- Intergovernmental Management Training
- Lafayette School District
- Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society
- Kaiser Permanente
- Berkeley Food & Housing Project
- Kern County Superintendents of Schools
- African American Quilt Guild of Oakland

Contact Lisa today at lisab@sandamiano.org, 925-837-9141, ext. 303.

March retreat for St. Isidore’s parish RCIA group

March retreat for St. Isidore’s parish RCIA group


7th Annual Fall Auction & Dinner

7th Annual Fall Auction & Dinner

Annual appeals and fundraiser are an essential part of San Damiano. Enhancing our warm and inviting environment and renovating our buildings and grounds ensures that we can continue to be a place that actively welcomes all people and supports the sense of growth, reflection, and renewal, available here. Continuing to provide quality, relevant speakers and presentations so that retreatants may address the challenges that they meet in everyday life is an ongoing challenge. Here is a list of opportunities to give your support:

  • Capital Campaign
  • Legacy Society
  • Fall Auction & Dinner
  • Spring & Christmas Appeals
  • NEW: Open Golf Tournament
  • Donate a Garden Bench

Ways to support San Damiano can be found on the Capital Campaign/ Giving page.

Hot Topics


Each summer here at San Damiano, we devote 8 days in a row to Silent Contemplative retreat time. Our intention is to provide a peaceful and quiet environment for people to retreat from the noisy busy world. The exterior silence becomes a vehicle for “interior silence” where prayer and God’s presence may be palatable. We can’t always provide the “perfect” silence but we do ask that our friends visit either before or after the 8-day silent retreats. All visitors must show respect for those on retreat by keeping the silence during their visit.
Chapel-Ray Ursula's memorial

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

“Small yet strong in the love of God, like St. Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its people.”

We are proud to have a pope who has taken the name of St. Francis of Assisi. During his first year in office, Pope Francis has stirred hearts among the world’s Catholics and non-Catholics. Here is another of Pope Francis’ quotes very appropriate for this time of year:

“Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force.”

The quotes above are taken from: The Joy of the Gospel: Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Feb. 2014 available in our bookstore.

Chapel Renovations Under Way

Many improvements have been made in the Chapel so far. We now have brighter lights, new paint, and a new sound system. Next up is new carpet and stonework. Then new chairs! Thank you all who have contributed to the Capital Campaign and to our most recent fundraiser, The Golf Tournament!

God’s Presence Seen and Felt

Our annual Holy Week Retreat concluded on Easter Sunday with a fabulous brunch. Many of those who joined us for the retreat experienced the living God through the gardens and nature, also, in the scripture and symbols of the Liturgies and presentations. Here some comments they made:

“Being here surrounded by the beauty of creation is like seeing God face to face.”

“I leave feeling deeply grateful for all the Liturgies and prayer experience.”

“Fr. Pat, Fr. Evan, & Fr. Ray – I’m comforted by all your words.”

“San Damiano… wonderful hospitality, beautiful grounds, great food.”

“Thank you for your time, work, prayer, energy you put into making this an extraordinary celebration of the Triduum.”

Vigil Mass (rs)

Ursula Caspary Frankel Remembered

A group of women gathered for a social and Mass to remember and honor Ursula Caspary Frankel. Ursula led women’s retreats here for about 16 years. Her retreats were uplifting, honest and she had an uncanny ability to listen and honor another’s story with grace and love. Fr. Ray presided at the Mass. Ursula passed away last spring and will always be remembered with much gratitude here at San Damiano.

Ursula Remembered

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