Meet the Friars

Joseph Schwab

Executive Director

Joseph Henry Schwab was born in Cincinnati OH, and grew up there and in Phoenix. Joe's family includes his mother, Beatrice Carle Schwab. Joe has one brother, William and one sister, Bonnie, four nephews and two nieces, two grandnieces, and dozens of cousins.

Joe graduated from Arcadia High School, Phoenix. He attended college at Phoenix College and Arizona State University, graduating with a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Religious Studies. Joe is a lifetime member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key National Honor Society.

In 1978, Joe entered the Novitiate of the Order. He has a Master of Theology Studies, and certification in the Contemporary Spirituality Program, Kino Institute. Theology Update Certification from Canterbury, England, 2003.

Professional Background:

California Mission Studies Association Board, part time teacher at St. Mary's Elementary and High School. He was Administrator at Mission Santa Barbara. Guardian at St. Elizabeth's in Oakland and Secretary to the Provincial. Father Joe Schwab, OFM is the Executive Director of the FRC and a Pilgrimage Director, Italy.


Gardening, hiking, bicycling, books on tape, missions, Colonial art and cooking.

Current Ministries:

  • Director, Franciscan Renewal Center
  • Treasurer, Franciscan Missionary Union
  • On-going Education Council
  • Retreat Ministries Council
  • Fraternal Life Council

Mario Vasquez

Mario Vasquez was born in East Los Angeles, his family moved to Montebello, CA to do farming. In 1952, he decided to become a friar and entered at San Luis Rey in 1954. He has two sisters and three brothers in Upland, Ontario and San Bernardino. Before his mother Eleanor died, she remembered The Casa with her generosity. Work took Mario to San Luis Rey, Old Mission Santa Barbara, Holy Cross Retreat, Las Cruces New Mexico, and eventually to the Franciscan Renewal Center (1965-73 and 1980-present).


Handball, golf, racquetball, running (3-time marathoner).

Current Ministries:

  • Retreat Ministry - Groundskeeper & Farmer, FRC


Fr. Peter Kirwin, OFM

Peter Kirwin was born in Troy, NY on June 21, 1945. He attended public school until high school. After graduating from Catholic Central, he enrolled in Hudson Valley Community College. He finished his Bachelors Degree at Wagner College on Staten Island.

His work career includes: teaching special education, banking and restaurant management. Prior to entering the order he was employed with the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene. He graduated from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, CA and was ordained in 1981.

He has served in the following assignments:

1981-84 St. George Parish, Seattle, WA

1985-87 Ascension Parish, Portland, OR

1987-91 St. Ann, Spokane, WA

1991-93 Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ

1993-94 St. Anthony, Tigard, OR  (returned parish to Bishop)

1994-98 Ascension Parish, Portland, OR

1998-02 Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ

2002-09 Mission San Luis Rey Parish, Oceanside, CA

2009-      Our Lady of the Angels Conventual Church, Scottsdale, AZ


Reading, music, cooking

Current Ministries:

  • Rector of Our Lady of the Angels Conventual Church
  • Guardian of the friar community
  • Retreat work
  • Member of the Board of Directors for the Renewal Center

Fr. Alonso de Blas, OFM

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, George de Blas arrived in Phoenix before his 11th birthday, living across Monroe St. from St. Mary's -- figuratively -- actually, across Monroe from the Sisters' Convent, which would later be razed and rebuilt as the Diocesan Pastoral Center.  He finished primary school at St. Mary's Elementary, then spent two years at St. Mary's Boys' High just two blocks up. 

He went off to the (minor) Seminary at Santa Barbara, CA to finish high school in May of 1956.  He studied four years of philosophy at San Luis Rey College (1956-1961) with a year of Novitiate in between at Old Mission San Miguel (where he received the habit and became Alonso), then four years of theology prior to ordination (December 19, 1964) at Old Mission Santa Barbara. 

He spent a year doing practical theology-in-residence at St. Mary's Church in downtown Stockton, CA, then came back to Santa Barbara for his first official appointment: 8 years teaching at Bishop Garcia Diego Catholic High School.  His second assignment brought him back to Phoenix's St. Mary's High (now co-ed), this time as a teacher! He spent 16 happy years teaching Spanish and Religion there at all levels. 

In 1991, he was called to his 3rd job: the Casa, where he discovered he was still teaching -- just to adults now.  So, he loved it. In 2000, a 4th job came: 9 years back at downtown St. Mary's, now as associate pastor with Fr. Vince Mesi as rector of the Basilica.  Finally, 2009 brought another return to the Renewal Center (still happy, but now on a retired-but-available basis). 

"Thank God for constant calls for funerals, weddings, baptisms, parlor chats, etc., or I might start to feel irrelevant (hey, just kidding!)." 

So there you have it -- so far....  Praise God!