Society of Saint Francis, San Damiano Friary Report 2018

San Damiano Friary, located near Dolores Park on the edge of the Mission District, is the largest of the three houses of the Society of Francis in the US and accommodates brothers at every stage of life in community.  On the one hand, it is home to two older  Brothers, Robert Hugh (who celebrated his 90th birthday this year) and Leo Anthony who now depend on care at home, whilst joining in as they can with prayer and other aspects of community life.  On the other, it is our principal formation house, and Brothers Camilo Guerrero and Paul Francis were admitted as novices very recently on the Feast of the Holy Cross (14 September) joining Brother James Nathaniel who was admitted in January last year.  The novices are involved in a variety of practical placements, and training opportunities, such as the Sojourners Chaplaincy and the Spiritual Direction training at the Mercy Center, Burlingame and various voluntary groups with homeless or vulnerable people.  We volunteer each week as a group with our Catholic brothers and others at St Anthony’s Dining Room and engage in ministries of welcome and encounter at our door and on the streets, where we frequently lend a listening ear or are asked to minister in prayer for those we meet.

Brother Desmond Alban’s principal responsibilities are as the Minister Provincial, greatly supported by his predecessor, Brother Jude, who also continues both in priestly ministries and in his work as a Jungian Analyst.  Desmond also engages in outside ministry, for instance with the ‘Singers of the Streets’ choir. Jude also continues traditional printing  on the 150 year old ‘Pax et Bonum Press’ and other brothers also are engaged in creative activities.  Of note in that respect, although he has just moved on from us, is Br Thomas’ developing skills as an iconographer. All the active brothers are regularly involved in local parishes, presiding, preaching and in other ways, with frequent engagements further afield in the diocese and beyond, but we are also grateful for the generous practical support we receive from local clergy and others both pastorally and in the formation of the novices.  One very regular engagement is our leading of the Sunday Morning Mass at the Episcopal Sanctuary, a ministry of the Church of the Advent. Prayer remains the center of our lives, in a pattern that we also share with others, particularly on our weekly Saturday Open Evening, gatherind around Evening Prayer and a Eucharist for Sunday and concluding with a meal for all who join us.

These are exciting times for the Province, with a new house and work just opened at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, New York, to which Brothers Damien Joseph and Thomas have moved, plans developing for a new ministry of welcome and hospitality at a hermitage near Lakeport, in the Diocese of Northern California and continued develpments in the Diocese of Los Angeles.  However, our demographic consisting as it does of largely older brothers or those new to the community we have few opportunities for earned income and are hugely grateful for those who support us financially.

 In its role as a formation house, San Damiano also welcomes enquirers from across the country who are exploring a sense of vocation.  There are currently several reaching the point where it will probably be right for them to come and live alongside us as aspirants and then postulants and we hope to welcome them as space allows.

 — Brother Desmond Alban SSF (Desmond Goodman), Minister Provincial, Province of the Americas