Since its establishment in 1961, San Damiano Retreat has been a place of natural beauty where thousands of people have come for spiritual re-newal and growth. Initially, San Damiano was a retreat house for men only. Soon after, however, it was opened to a wider variety of groups seeking a place for quiet reflection, and the Friars have long since expanded the programs to meet the varying needs of the times. Today, retreats of many different varieties – including spiritual, educational, and informational – are offered. Each, in its unique manner, helps retreatants address their own needs as well as those of the dynamic society in which we live.






Enshrined in the sanctuary area of the San Damiano Chapel is a reproduction of the crucifix that made the church of San Damiano outside the walls of Assisi famous. 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 the edifice only to realize that the larger community of the whole church was meant, not merely a material building. more»


Hospitality (cr&rs)“From a faith perspective, hospitality can be understood as the practice of God’s welcome embodied in our actions as we reach across difference to participate with God in bringing justice and healing to our world.” (Francis Dombrowski)

The above quote captures the essence of the Gospel and the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. At San Damiano, the friars and staff look forward to serving each visitor with open arms and hearts. Here is what a recent visitor told us on their evaluation: “You did a great job welcoming us and making us comfortable.”

Women in Chapel (rs)

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.


“Franciscana” refers to the Franciscan traditions and the ways in which we attempt to apply and integrate them into our mission at San Damiano Retreat.

The Franciscan Spirit at San Damiano

Francis of AssisiEach year we sponsor a Holy Week Retreat. It is the premier retreat of the year for our Franciscan Friars and Staff. During these holy days, we focus on the scripture and symbols of the liturgies. Our gardens are full of the magnificence of God’s creative power as recognized by St. Francis. Our visitors capture in words what they experience here:

“The friars live the Franciscan spirit, I am touched by the example of community prayer, welcoming, and presence.”

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


The mission of San Damiano Retreat is to provide a peaceful environment of natural beauty where spiritual renewal and growth may be sought by people of all faiths and backgrounds In the Spirit of St Francis and St 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.


Many directors have guided San Damiano through the myriad challenges and opportunities that have arisen:

– Michael Weishaar, OFM
– Paul Warren, OFM
– Ray Bucher, OFM

– David Temple, OFM
– Howard Hall, OFM
– Tom Grant
– Vince Mesi, OFM

Scholarly Franciscans

The Province of Saint Barbara has many friars who are contributors to the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. Fr. Joseph P. Chinnici, OFM is one of them. Fr. Joe presented our Fall Franciscan Spirituality retreat this year. Here is what some attendees said about their retreat with Fr. Joe:

“Fr. Joe’s conferences were right on target and very nourishing to my soul.”

“I especially liked the love, kindness, and the Franciscan spirit, it is sacred.”

“I especially liked the depth of insight and spirituality and the teachings of Bonaventure.”

“I especially like Fr. Joe’s insights, background and style of presentations.”

“Fr. Joe is wonderful, I especially appreciate the way he speaks and presents his program – so gentle, open and friendly.”

“I love the beauty of this place, the God of surprises is around every corner.”

stfrancis & clare


Fr. Michael PerryFollowing a day that was dedicated to prayer and discussion about the future of the Order, the brother electors gathered in Rome elected Vicar General Michael A. Perry, OFM, as the General Minister of the Order and 120th Successor of St. Francis of Assisi. Br. Michael becomes the third American to serve as Vicar of St. Francis. Former General Minister John Vaughn, OFM, of the St. Barbara Province held that post for two terms from 1979-1991; and Valentine Schaff, OFM, of the St. John the Baptist Province was General Minister who served 1945-46. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1954, Br. Michael entered the Novitiate of the Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1977. He served his Province in Theological Formation, Post-Novitiate Formation, International JPIC work and for 10 years he worked in the Missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He served also with the Catholic Relief Services and in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops before being elected Provincial Minister of his Province in 2008 and then a year later, Vicar General of the Order.

Easter morning Liturgy around the fountain

Easter morning Liturgy around the fountain


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