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placeholder Retreats & Pilgrimages

Join an
humbling trip to the
land of Jesus

History of the
Knights, Ladies
of Peter Claver

Pilgrim priest joins
San Damiano

List of Retreats

Site of Marian apparitions becomes national shrine

Memorial marking where Moses saw Promised Land reopens

Bishops elevate popular Alaskan retreat to national shrine

National Vocations Awareness Week

Seminarian finds
his home in
Oakland diocese

A Carmelite

Missionaries of
Charity form Sisters
in San Francisco

Actor praises priesthood in video

Discernment as
theme for
next synod

50-year CYO coach Bannister awarded diocesan medal

Chautauqua XX and 100 years for St. Lawrence O'Toole

St. Jerome Parish in
El Cerrito celebrates
75th anniversary

Twin festivities for
St. Anne's 100th

Year of Mercy Calendar

placeholder October 24, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Retreats & Pilgrimages

Father Ken Laverone blesses a dog held by its companion, Patty Pinella, during the annual blessing of the animals at San Damiano Retreat.

Pilgrim priest joins San Damiano Retreat

The Franciscans at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville welcomed Rev. Ken Laverone, OFM, as the new guardian and interim director.

In addition to his duties at San Damiano, Father Laverone is working part-time for the Diocese of Monterey as a canon lawyer.

Father Laverone says Mass in the chapel at San Daminao.

Prior to joining San Damiano, Father Ken was pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Sacramento. He played a central role as co-postulator in the canonization of St. Junipero Serra, leading to Father Laverone's reading the saint's biography in Spanish at the canonization Mass with Pope Francis in 2015.

During his transition from Sacramento to Danville, he made a second pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the legendary burial site of St. James. Since making this pilgrimage is on my bucket list, I was anxious to learn about these pilgrim experiences.

Father Laverone made his first pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago in 2014. He followed a route originating in the French Pyrenees, walking 484 miles over a period of four weeks prior to reaching Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

Way of St. James
Read about Rev. Ken
Laverone's experience on
the Way of St. James at https://friarontheway.wordpress.com
When asked what made him decide to make the pilgrimage, he replied: "It had been in the making for 10 years. A lot of people go to come to grips with life. In my case, my father had died six months earlier and my life was 'on tilt.'"

Father Laverone is quick to point out that a pilgrimage is not a "tour." He explains, "The focus is on the journey and not the destination. A pilgrimage is an encounter with yourself, God and others. There should be some discomfort, enthusiasm, solitude, poverty, community, gratitude, sharing and looking out for one another. The camino provides all of these experiences, and you connect with God in a way as never before."

Once home, Father Laverone's parishioners and fellow friars noticed his peaceful demeanor. He felt joyful, enthusiastic and in love with life. He experienced a lasting sense of gratitude for all the gifts he received.

So, in June 2016, he decided to go back to Santiago de Compostela to minister to other pilgrims. This time, he started in Lisbon, Portugal. After making the pilgrimage, he said Mass and heard confessions at Santa Maria church in O Cebreiro, Spain, a church known for Eucharistic miracles, and at the cathedral in Santiago.

The journey continues. Father Laverone helps keep the pilgrim spirit alive by recounting his experiences. He has also enjoyed communicating and visiting with his fellow pilgrims from all over the world and looks forward to meeting guests and would-be pilgrims at San Damiano.

(Janet Gardner is project manager at San Damiano Retreat.)

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