About Us

Since 1961, the Franciscan Friars, of the Province of St. Barbara, have welcomed to San Damiano Retreat those who thirst for a greater connection to God. We are 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 secular) may reflect on new insights…new choices…new decisions. Through innovative and relevant retreats and spiritual direction, individuals can discover Gospel answers to today’s challenging questions. San Damiano is truly a spiritual oasis.


May 19 Golf Tournament – Big Success

May 19 Golf Tournament – Big Success

We just finished our spring fundraiser – a golf tournament, auction and dinner at the Diablo Country Club. It was very well attended and we thank everyone who participated! For additional ways to support San Damiano visit the Capital Campaign/Giving page. You might also call our Director, Fr. Ray Bucher, OFM at 925-837-9141, ext. 309.


The original San Damiano, a little church located outside the town of Assisi, Italy, has great significance in the life and vocation of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. It was while in prayer before a 12th Century crucifix in the dilapidated church of San Damiano that Francis heard a voice. The Christ of the crucifix spoke to Francis, “Francis, go repair my church which is falling into ruins.” Literally Francis began to gather stones and started building up the edifice only to realize that the larger community of the whole church was meant, not merely a material building. St. Clare of Assisi, the first female follower of St. Francis, was given San Damiano as the first convent for her community, the Poor Ladies. The Poor Clares took the original San Damiano cross with them to the Santa Chiara Basilica where it hangs in a chapel. It is our hope that San Damiano Retreat will be a place of listening, vision, and rebuilding for you and a place of encounter with Christ. Find out more on the Franciscana page.


Volunteers gather for a group picture, February 3, 2014

Volunteers gather for a group picture, February 3, 2014

Most of the people who volunteer here at San Damiano, work at the front desk, gift shop, and in the garden. Without these willing and able folks, we could not do all we do to provide this place of peace and beauty. If you are interested in volunteering here at San Damiano, call us and let us know what you would like to do. Our Fundraisers are as successful as they are because of volunteers also. Months ahead of the date of a fundraiser, volunteers are busy preparing. For all of the volunteer opportunities available at San Damiano call and talk to Richard Wednesdays through Fridays and he will get you started. Thank you in advance!

Volunteers 2



“I experienced the mind, body, and Spirit connection in a new and exciting way. I thoroughly enjoyed the message given and the presenters’ expertise.

“The presenters were well prepared. They gave an overview of the day and preface to each session and how the segments relate and build.

“I came away from the weekend with a feeling of trust in the Spirit of God.

“I appreciate the warm, comforting spirit of the staff.


Our Franciscan friar community is changing again. We say farewell to Fr. Ray Bucher who has served here as director for 18 years. He will “semi” retire to St. Francis Parish in Sacramento. Thank you Fr. Ray for your years of service. You will be missed!


Vince Mesi (cr&rs)We welcome Fr. Vince Mesi, OFM to the friar community and to the staff of San Damiano as our new director. Fr. Vince is looking forward to serving in the retreat ministry here after many years in pastoral ministry in parishes. He comes to us from St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, AZ. The next time you are here, please stop in and welcome him. 


Fr. Ray is closing out his days here at San Damiano. These days have been full of goodbye gatherings and A’s baseball games. Ellen Pesavento made this comment on our Facebook post: “I’m so happy for Fr. Ray but he will be missed so much—thank you for all the wonderful years!”

Advisory Board Farewell Dinner

Advisory Board Farewell Dinner

Staff Farewell Social & Luncheon

Staff Farewell Social & Luncheon

Staff Picnic 2014

July 23rd was our Staff Picnic Day. We enjoyed a beautiful day at Osage park here in Danville. We thank Fr. Ray, our director, for allowing us to have this day and for Mike Benetti for cooking on the BBQ most of the day. Other staff contributed food as well. A fun time was had by all.

Staff Visits St. Anthony Foundation

Staff visit St Anth Foundation July 2014

6 staff members went to St Anthony Foundation to serve lunch, just one of the services this awesome non-profit does for the poor and needed in San Francisco. Here we are, from left to right: Mike Benetti, Fr. Ray Bucher, Lorraine Steele, Barbara Bucher, Lisa Briones, and Juan Villanueva.


The labyrinth is a walking meditation, a path of prayer. Walking the labyrinth reduces stress, quiets the mind, and opens the heart. There is an outdoor labyrinth at San Damiano located in the Canticle Garden. There are also chairs for those who want to linger while enjoying God’s creation.

Laby Ret (rs)

Our staff person, Dorothy Charbonneau, directs a day retreat using the labyrinth for meditation and prayer. It takes place in the spring. Here are attendees at the April 1st labyrinth day enjoying peaceful prayer time walking the labyrinth. This retreat had a Lenten theme and the retreatants enjoyed a walk on our outdoor labyrinth also.

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