Gathered this week at historic Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, the Franciscan friars choose a new provincial minister every six to nine years.
Gaa currently serves as executive director of Old Mission San Luis Rey and pastor of San Luis Rey Parish, a Roman Catholic faith community of roughly 5,000 families. Gaa has been director of the old mission for five years and pastor of the parish for three.
A native of Florida, Gaa graduated from college with a degree in economics and finance. He moved to California as an adult, where he worked in the corporate world. Gaa converted to Catholicism at the age of 24, and entered the Franciscan friars 10 years later. He made solemn vows (lifelong) as a friar in 1998 and was ordained a Catholic priest later that same year in Tucson, Ariz.
After ordination, Gaa served first as parochial vicar (associate pastor) and then as pastor at Mission San Xavier del Bac, a historic church on a district of the Tohono O’odham Native American Reservation. During his six years as pastor at Mission San Xavier del Bac, Gaa raised funds for a major restoration of the historic site as well as construction of a school to serve Native American children.
Immediately prior to coming to Old Mission San Luis Rey, Gaa spent seven years in Kazakhstan, located in central Asia, establishing the presence of the Franciscan Order and initiating dialogue with the local Muslim and Orthodox populations. He also ministered to the resident Roman Catholics, engaged in social service work in a local clinic, and helped build the local Catholic church.
“I think this is an exciting time to be a friar,” Gaa said upon his election as provincial minister. “Yes, we face a lot of challenges, but there’s a real grace in our life and our ministry. And I’m very grateful for all those who collaborate with us.”
The Franciscan friars of the Province of St. Barbara are members of the Order of Friars Minor, a Roman Catholic religious community founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. The province covers the western United States and serves in areas of parish ministry, outreach to the poor, retreat work, hospital and prison chaplaincy, education, social advocacy, and foreign and Native American missions.
OTHER FRIARS ELECTED TO LEADERSHIP
Joining Rev. David Gaa, OFM, who was elected provincial minister on Tuesday, are Rev. Martin Ibarra, OFM, provincial vicar, and six members of the province’s council, known as the definitorium.
Gathered this week at historic Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, the Franciscan friars choose a new provincial minister and provincial vicar every six to nine years. Members of the province’s definitorium are elected every three years.
Ibarra, who was elected vicar provincial on Wednesday, Jan. 13, was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He entered the Franciscan friars’ formation program in Los Angeles in 1993, made solemn (lifelong) vows as a friar in 2003 and was ordained a priest in Oakland in 2008. He currently serves as executive director of Casa Franciscana, a Franciscan organization that ministers to the poor and marginalized in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Guaymas, Mexico. As vicar provincial, Ibarra will function as administrative and fraternal leader of the province in the absence of the provincial, as well as serve on the province’s definitorium.
Other members of the definitorium were elected Thursday, Jan 14. They are: Rev. Garrett Galvin, OFM; Rev. Anthony Garibaldi, OFM; Bro. John Gutierrez, OFM; Rev. Dan Lackie, OFM; Rev. Bill Minkel, OFM; and Rev. Joe Schwab, OFM.
Members of the newly elected definitorium come from a wide variety of backgrounds and ministries that span the province. Galvin is a professor of sacred scripture at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside. Garibaldi currently serves as secretary of formation for the province and as fraternal leader (guardian) of the Franciscan residence of St. Boniface in San Francisco. Gutierrez works as an emergency room technician and union activist in San Jose, Calif.
Lackie currently leads development and fundraising efforts for the province and resides in Huntington Beach, Calif. Minkel ministers as parochial vicar (associate pastor) of the San Solano Missions on the Tohono O’odham Native American Reservation in Arizona. Schwab is executive director of the Franciscan Renewal Center, a large retreat center and Catholic faith community in Scottsdale, Ariz.
For more information contact:
Brother Peter Boegel, OFM
Province of St. Barbara