Read an open letter on recent events and racism from our Franciscan leader in Oakland.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of groups use your center?
St. Francis Retreat is open to churches, religious, civic, educational, therapeutic and other non-profit organizations. We take pride in serving a wide variety of faith denominations, in an ecumenical spirit. Many healing and recovery groups find our place especially conducive to their work.
What do I do to sign up a group?
If this is your first time here at St. Francis we have a few needs and a few suggestions. Our retreat co-ordinator will be able to fill you in on more of the details. Please call us; we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you further. We do suggest, if at all possible, that you make an on-site visit to make sure this is the right place for your needs.
What about costs?
Cost depends on length of stay and number of meals provided. Our scheduling staff would be happy to discuss your needs and provide you with a quote.
What about A/V equipment and set-up?
We can provide digital projectors and screens, TV/DVDs, stereos, whiteboards, easels (paper is not provided), as well as an overhead projector at no additional cost. The larger conference areas have built-in PA systems as well.
What size groups can you accomodate?
Our set-up allows for a great deal of flexibility in regard to group size. For overnight stays, we have 117 beds and 58 rooms, mostly semi-private with bath, and cottages. All bed and bath linens are provided by us. Our conference rooms vary in size to hold groups of up to 150, 70, 60, 25 and 10. We also have small group break-out areas.
How far in advance do we have to book a group?
Our schedule often fills up quickly at peak demand times of the year, especially for weekend usage. Many groups will cover (roll over) from one year to the next. However, openings do become available unexpectedly due to cancellations. -We are open and available during holiday weekends. –We have greater flexibility for mid- week reservations. -Even for last minute availability it’s worth contacting our retreat co-ordinator.
Do I have to be Catholic?
No. Our programs are open and sensitive to all people of faith. Our retreats are presented in the context of the Catholic/Christian tradition.
What do I have to bring?
Unless otherwise directed, all you need to bring is you —a friend would be nice also! We provide all bedding, towels, etc. The food is good and plentiful. The weather is usually mild but depends on the time of year.
Are private rooms available?
Ordinarily our rooms are offered on a double-occupancy. For most retreats some rooms are designated available for private use. There is an additional fee for a private room, if available.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual Direction, also called spiritual companioning, is a traditional ministry within the Church where someone trained in theology and spiritual direction skills companions another on his/her faith journey. Spiritual direction provides a safe setting to talk about our relationslhip with God and search for meaning and purpose in life. It is not alwys possible to look at what is happening in our life objectively or to be as sensitive as we would like to be to God’s Spirit. We need a guide, a companiion, to act as a mirror. Spiritual direction offers someone to accompany us on this adventure. Spiritual direction is offered both during retreats and by appointment.
What happened to the lake?
In 1797 the founding friars of the Mission noted the existence of a fresh water lake nearby the location of the Mission. At that time it was a spring fed sag pond on the San Andreas Fault, and probably often visited by the local native population. It was a source of water year round and a choice location when Colonel Hollister and then later, the Flints and Bixby’s chose to build on this site.
Margery Flint noted in her book, Life on the Escarpment, that those natural springs were closed off by the fore shocks to the great earthquake of 1906. Early photos of the lake show it receding after that time.
When Mme Hedges had the property, she was instrumental in having a diversion dam and collection canal build along the entire hillside west of the ranch house. All that run off was collected and brought into the lake. The lake stayed filled until the rains of 1995 hit. So much rain fell that El Nino year that the overflow from the lake eroded the canyon behind the Casita, causing concern about its safety, but also wiping out the cherry orchard on the neighboring property.
The retreat was forced to stop importing water to the property since it could not properly contain that amount of water safely. Ever since then the water level has decreased, exacerbated by the recent 3 year drought. Seasonal rains may bring some water into the lake bed, but we will not see the water level reach back up to the rock walls lining part of the lake bed.