The first Franciscan schools in the Province followed the model of the traveling friar-missionary generation. Out of the parishes, friars helped local communities by teaching in schools and promoting the arts. In the context of social and economic discrimination in the middle of the 20th century, education became a form of evangelization. For example, Franciscan elementary and secondary schools were opened in Phoenix and Oakland in the 1920s, Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s, and Stockton in the 1950s. In higher education, seminaries and schools of theology and philosophy trained students for religious life and pastoral ministry both inside and outside of the Order.
Over the decades, the schools were in motion as much as the friars. Seminaries were in Troutdale and Santa Barbara. The school of theology moved from Santa Barbara to Berkeley and then to Oceanside. In any city, the friars were busy seeking to meet the needs of their students. While in Berkeley, Fr. Julius Gliebe was known for inspiring students with stories and speeches. During the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, the ninety-four year old friar enthralled students with his thoughts on peace-making.
As social and economic contexts changed, many schools closed or entered collaborative relationships. For example, while in Berkeley, the Franciscan School of Theology collaborated with the Graduate Theological Union. At the new location in Oceanside, FST students work in collaboration with University of San Diego and continue in the community formation made possible through education.
Br. Tony Lavorin
“I was met by a friar with the brown robe and sandals. I thought to myself, ‘What is this, the Middle Ages?’” Thus began Br. Tony’s life with the Province of St. Barbara.
After being wounded as a Marine in World War II, Br. Tony wanted to share his life fully with others. He entered the Order in 1952 and in 1954 was sent to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Provo, Utah. When Br. Tony heard complaints from students about the lack of a fair presentation of Catholicism at school, he reached out to junior high and high school classes, and even entered into a newspaper letter exchange with a local Mormon bishop. Some of his daily work was patiently responding to questions. When asked about the crucifix, he’d answer, “This is the most powerful sight of God’s love for us-- we always need to be reminded of that.”
Br. Tony now lives at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland, California.
Click on the links below to view more activities the friars have been performing over the last 100 years.