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.
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.
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.
Directors Past & Present
Many directors have guided San Damiano through the myriad challenges and opportunities that have arisen:
- David Temple, OFM (1961-1976)
- Michael Weishaar, OFM (1976-1982)
- Howard Hall, OFM (1982-1989)
- Paul Warren, OFM (1989-1995)
- Tom Grant (1995-1996)
- Ray Bucher, OFM (1996-2014)
- Vince Mesi, OFM (2014-2015)
- Michael Minton, OFM (2015- 2016)
- Kenneth Laverone, OFM (2016-2017)
- Mr. Peter Wise (2017-2019)
- Ms. Lisa Briones (Present Interim Director)
Origins of Our Name
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.