SAN DIEGO — A Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769, one of nine he established in California, bringing Catholicism to that vast region.
Today, Franciscans serve in 100 countries. They have a significant presence in the San Diego Diocese, with congregations of friars and sisters serving parishes and ministries.
The order was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century, after he abandoned life of wealth to preach the gospels and serve the poor. His writings have had a major influence in the Church, most recently playing a foundational role in the work of Pope Francis.
“St. Francis had great focus and love for the marginalized. He found meaning and joy in difficult work. We have a call to continue that,” said Father Garrett Galvin, OFM, a regional leader in the Order of Friars Minor, one of three Franciscan orders in the Catholic Church, and the director of the Franciscan School of Theology.
A total of 15 Franciscan friars serve in the San Diego Diocese, in communities at Mission San Luis Rey, where the order has been present since 1885, and in central San Diego. Three friars serve the mission parish, including its pastor, Father Oscar Méndez, OFM, while others serve in the cemetery and retreat house.
At Immaculate Conception Church in Old Town, Father Galvin serves as the parish administrator and Father Vincent Mesi, OFM, as the Sacramental and Spiritual leader.
A total of 11 Franciscan sisters serve in the diocese, including Sister Kathleen Warren, OSF, who directs its Office of Women Religious. Nine are from congregations in the United States and Mexico and two are Sisters of St. Clare, also part of the Franciscan family.
Order of Friars Minor
Founded: 1209 in Italy
Active in the San Diego Diocese: 252 years
San Diego Leader: Father Garrett Galvin
Phone: (510) 536-3722
Vocation information: sbfranciscans.org/be-a-friar