This month Father David Gaa, OFM, was elected provincial minister of the Franciscan Province of Saint Barbara. His duties will include overseeing all the friars and the ministries of the province.

“I think this is an exciting time to be a friar,” Father Gaa said after his election. “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.”

Father Gaa serves as executive director of Old Mission San Luis Rey and pastor of Mission San Luis Rey Parish, both in Oceanside. He has been director of the Old Mission for five years and pastor of the parish for three.

A native of Florida, Father Gaa graduated from college with a degree in economics and finance. He moved to California, where he worked in the corporate world, and converted to Catholicism at the age of 24. He entered the Franciscan friars 10 years later, and in 1998 he made solemn vows as a friar and was ordained a Catholic priest later that same year in Tucson, Arizona.

Following his ordination, Father Gaa served first as an 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.

The Franciscan friars are members of the Order of Friars Minor, a Catholic religious community founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209.