Francis of Assisi’s encounter with God before the San Damiano crucifix, wherein God said ‘Francis, rebuild my Church which you see is falling to ruins’ is the inspiration behind the new Franciscan spirituality centre. The new centre, known as the San Damiano Spirituality Centre is a gift from the Order of Friars Minor (OFMs) in Singapore. Discerning, like Francis of Assisi, that the call to rebuild God’s Church actually means rebuilding Christian discipleship, the Order decided to move all the friars in Singapore into one of their two friaries, freeing the other, the San Damiano Friary, to be set up as a new spirituality centre.
The San Damiano Spirituality Centre aims to provide three things. Firstly, as a platform to share Franciscan spirituality, it envisages that the OFMs and the Order of Secular Franciscans (OFS) would collaborate to promote Franciscan thought and the Franciscan way of living, especially among the lay faithful. For this, the Centre’s work would include Franciscan programmes, formation talks, celebrations of Franciscan feasts and possibly, annual pilgrimages to Assisi and/or other places associated with St Francis.
Secondly, the Centre aims to provide an environment that is both safe and restful so that retreatants feel at home with God when they take quiet time away from hectic schedules. The Centre offers individual guided retreats and tailored preach retreats that aim to allow retreatants to experience God in their lives and deepen their spiritual growth, through the way of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi.
Thirdly, the Centre aspires to establish a network of Franciscan presence across the nation by providing a haven wherein ideas to live the gospel authentically in partnership with serving the poor can be initiated. There will be moves to initiate the young into Franciscan ideals and values, plans to begin a Youth Franciscan (YouFra) movement. With God’s grace and mercy, the Centre will continue to grow towards becoming a home for Franciscan-trained spiritual directors and counsellors to journey with men and women, young and old, towards discovering the Joy of the Gospel in their lives.
The vision of the San Damiano Spirituality Centre is inspired by Francis’ heart’s desire to live and love as Christ did. ‘To embrace simplicity in living the gospel with perfect joy’. The mission of the San Damiano Spirituality Centre is to provide for all who come to it seeking spiritual nourishment, the joy of experiencing our amazing God, and being transformed by His Love. In the same way that Francis sought to be a knight for a greater king, it is the overall aspiration of the Centre ‘To conquer and rebuild the church in the hearts of those who are yearning for God with love’.