On Sunday, January 28, we welcomed members of the Roaring Brook Lake Gardening Club to the San Damiano Farm for a workshop and demonstration on plant propagation. Bob Conboy, manager of our farm and gardener extraordinaire, guided everyone along the way. Topics covered included rooting cuttings (lavender, rosemary, and many others) as well as divisions and layering techniques.
San Damiano Farms, located on the grounds of Graymoor in Garrison, is named after San Damiano church located near Assisi, Italy, where St. Francis first received his miraculous calling in 1205. The ministry began in 2017 to provide transitional living and vocational training, while allowing men who have completed a component of treatment at St. Christopher’s Inn, to remain on the Holy Mountain and continue working towards long-term recovery.
The origins of San Damiano House & Farm can be traced to 1916 when Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor founded St. Anthony Farm on the site with the intention of making the Society of Atonement self-supporting so that more help could be offered to others. Men from the St. Christopher’s Inn worked on the farm from its beginning through at least World War II, when it also produced grain for the war effort. In 1949, Friar postulants began cultivating the land and, by 1963, raising sheep. From 1970 until it became the novitiate in 1985, the farm was the original home of New Hope Manor. This substance abuse treatment program for women—the first of its kind in the United States—originated at Graymoor under the guidance of Fr. Dan Egan, SA, who was affectionately known as the “Junkie Priest.” With this rich history, the Friars feel blessed that San Damiano House & Farm is continuing their mission of hope and healing.