Work Outside the Province

To understand evangelization in the Province, one must factor in the wide range of communities in the Province, writings from the Pope in Rome, global events, and the Franciscan commitment to justice in the form of mercy. Missionary work in Provincial communities and abroad means spreading the Gospel by recognizing human dignity, and responding to necessities.

Many of the friars on the front lines of community organizing in the second half of the 20th century participated in fifth-year training in Stockton, CA. Out of St. Mary’s Parish, Fr. Alan McCoy had young priests work alongside him at St. Mary’s Dining Room ministering with the poor.

From there, friars marched with the United Farm Workers Union, held Masses from a trailer across the Central Valley, taught children in multilingual classrooms, and served in rural Peru. The Province’s commitment to the Native Americans in the Southwest continued as well. Fr. Bonaventure Oblasser is known for his journey to serve the Tohono O’Odham, even aiding in the formation of the reservation. The friars that followed not only worked on behalf of the Native Americans but worked alongside them; many schools were built and classes were taught by the partnership of friars and Native Americans.

Fr. Lambert Fremdling

In 1940 Fr. Lambert fled Nazi oppression and travelled to the United States to be ordained. Because he was considered an enemy alien, he had to live the World War II years within a 30 mile radius of Cowlic, Arizona. Due to the isolation, he became an expert in the Tohono O’Odham language. He spent the next 40 years ministering to the O’Odham peoples, principally at Topawa, Pisinemo, Chuichu, and Cowlic.

Fr. Lambert lived as a Franciscan for 54 years. Following his death in 1989, he was given the singular honor of burial among the O’Odham as a member of the O’Odham community.

Click on the links below to view more activities the friars have been performing over the last 100 years.