St. Francis always desired to preach the gospel in other lands. Today we as friars live and work not only in California, but in the mountains of Northern Mexico, helping with evangelization and building up the local church. There are also houses of formation in Mexico, helping form young men to become Capuchins and continue the work of the gospel.
Mexico: The friars also serve in four locations in Northern Mexico. Please visit the Capuchin Franciscans of Northern Mexico website at: http://www.capuchinosnormex.com/ Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Yecora, Sonora
: The friars first came here in 1985, though the parish was founded in the seventeenth century by Jesuit missionaries. They serve the needs of the people of the town of Yecora as well as many outlying villages and ranches. A major part of their ministry involves the Pimas and other indigenous peoples in this mountainous area.
Saint Fidelis Friary, Tres Ojitos, Chihuahua: This house serves as a training center for new vocations. The friars are also involved in the pastoral ministry in the nearby towns and villages and act as chaplains for the local convent of contemplative Poor Clare Capuchin sisters.
Saint Pio Friary, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon: This house is also a formation house, where the young friars complete their theological and other studies. It also serves the local community as a place of prayer and spiritual guidance.
St. Francis of Assisi Friary - Durango, Mexico: The newest friary in Mexico, St. Francis serves as the location for the postulancy as well as a base for parochial and other ministries. The friars are located in the middle of a new neighborhood, walking with the people in their journey and praying for their needs.
History of Missions
Missionary outreach was part of the life of St. Francis and also of the Order he founded. Francis realized that the best way to preach the gospel was not from the pulpit nor by the sword but by living the message of Christ. Francis endeavored to live a Christ-like life and shared this legacy with his followers.
His zeal for mission is part of our heritage as the Irish Province of Capuchin Franciscans. From the very beginning, the Irish friars left their homeland to follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick, St. Columban, and other great Irish missionaries to be the hands and feet of Christ.
In 1910, the Irish Capuchins were invited to come to the Western United States. Although the U.S. was no longer officially a “mission field,” the need for missionaries to preach the gospel was widespread, especially in the West. The hard work of the Irish friars eventually attracted native vocations and led to the establishment of a separate province. In 1979, Our Lady of Angels Western America Province was established and dedicated to serving the people of God in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.
In 1985, the minister provincial and a committee of friars visited various dioceses in México. During the visit, the friars identified an intense need for missionaries in the Northern Mexican State of Sonora, in the diocese of Ciudad Obregón. The bishop suggested the town of Yecora, high in the Sierra that had no resident clergy or religious. Inspired by the need of the people, the provincial and committee recommended that the friars of Western America send their first missionaries to Yecora.
In November 1985, four friars drove from California to Ciudad Obregón to meet the bishop and receive their commission to serve in Yécora. As they drove from the city to the new mission, they came to a better understanding of the friars who had made difficult journeys in the past. The road between Obregón and Yécora was so bad that it took them nine hours to make the journey of 120 or so miles. Often the “road” was nothing more than a creek bed, and as darkness fell they had to use searchlights to make sure they did not drive over a cliff.
On their arrival they came to the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the small parish residence nearby and settled in to carry on the missionary tradition of the Franciscan Order and the Irish Capuchin Province. The new mission was dedicated on December 12, 1985 (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) by Fr. Gerald Barron and has been a part of Western Capuchin life ever since.
As we continue to grow in our service in Northern Mexico, our goal remains true: to live the Gospel life of St. Francis and serve the people of God, inviting along the way young men to carry on our tradition. We are grateful to God for this opportunity and to our many benefactors who enable us to continue the Capuchin Franciscan tradition in Northern México. As our Order grows there, who knows where the young men who are now in formation may end up being sent as missionaries.