Franciscans in California step up for refugees in need

Posted on 10. Jun, 2017 by in Immigration, Justice

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The story of Franciscans housing refugees intertwines the three Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—in stunning harmony. It echoes St. Francis’ experience of Islam. And it offers small steps toward answering the larger question of refugees confronting the United States and the world.

A Refuge of a Different Kind

San Damiano’s red tile roof and white walls surround a courtyard filled with fountains and flowers native to California. It’s easy to see how the place has become an oasis for retreatants seeking prayerful beauty and calm.

But if, as some believe, the retreat business is dying, what’s the future for this and centers like it? Or, as Franciscan Brother Mike Minton, the center’s director from 2015 to 2016, asks, “How do we become something the world needs?”

His community considered several possibilities suited to its mission of being “a Franciscan presence in northern California.” Since 1961, the friars of the St. Barbara Province have made the 55-acre site “a peaceful environment of natural beauty where spiritual renewal and growth may be sought by people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

The friars have sought to build on that foundation.

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