The territory on northern Mexico (now the southwest of the United States) the friars began to move. Some went back to Spain when Mexico gained its independence, some went back to Mexico and a few stayed in mission territory.
In the meantime, Franciscan friars were fleeing anti-Catholic legislation in Germany and coming to the United States, first to minister in the Midwest, and then in California. These friars from Germany founded a number of rural and urban parishes in the West, and their efforts flourished. During this time the territory now was a part of the United States.
In the early 1900s, the Franciscans friars expanded into the states of Washington and Oregon, taking on large mission fields with mixed-nationality ministries. Within 10 years, enough friars were engaged in ministry in the western United States for the region to be incorporated into its own Franciscan province. On December 4, 1915, the Province of St. Barbara was formally established. The new province quickly accepted additional ministries, including Native American mission fields in southern Arizona, New Mexico and California — sometimes returning to areas first evangelized by friars centuries earlier.
Today, 100 years after the establishment of the Province of St. Barbara, Franciscan friars continue in their broad range of ministries, working closely with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and social and economic statuses. Together with the entire Franciscan family, the friars are adapting to a rapidly changing world while remaining true to the spirit of our founder, St. Francis of Assisi.