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.


Live Auction 2014 (rs&cr)Our Annual Fall Auction and Dinner Fundraiser was held October 26. It was another great success. Up next is the 2nd Annual Open Golf Tournament on Monday, May 18, 2015. Mark your calendars!


SD Cross (rs&cr)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.


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.

Friar community w_Ray

The Friar community gathered with the staff one last time with Fr. Ray before he left for St. Francis Parish in Sacramento. The friars are from left: Fr. Josef Procnow, Fr. Vince Mesi, Br. Keith Warner, Fr. Ray Bucher, Br. Mike Minton, and Fr. Evan Howard.

Thanksgiving Celebration

On Wednesday, Nov. 26th, the St. Barbara Province friars participated in the Interfaith San Ramon Valley Thanksgiving Celebration at Peace Lutheran Church in Danville. The friars from left to right are: Br. Mike Minton, OFM, Br. Jeff Durham, OFM, Br. Keith Warner, OFM, Br. James Seiffert, OFM and Fr. Vince Mesi, OFM.

Thanksgiving prayer service 2014 (rs&cr)


Mary Paella

Mary Paella

Mary Paella rejoined the staff this summer. She was injured during a fall in February 2013. Welcome back Mary! Many of you see Kateri when you arrive to register for one of our sponsored retreats. She has taken a few weeks vacation this Fall and will be back soon. Fr. Vince, our new director, led a pilgrimage to Europe for most of the month of September. He had a great time blessing the animals on the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th. His office is set up and he is learning the ropes. You can meet him at our fall fundraiser on Oct. 26th. Stay tuned for more staff news!

Kateri and Barbara do Golf Tournament registration

Kateri and Barbara do Golf Tournament registration

Fr. Vince blesses the pets and pet owners

Fr. Vince blesses the pets and pet owners

Our Gift Shop

Our gift shop and bookstore is open 7 days a week with limited hours on Sundays. Richard Taft is the Manager. Dorothy Charbonneau, who wears many hats here at San Damiano, assists him on many days. Be on the look out for Christmas cards and other gifts as the season approaches.

Richard assists a customers

Richard assists a customers

Dorothy & Richard

Dorothy & Richard


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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