After 24 years of leadership as Executive Director of the Franciscan Renewal Center, Fr. Joseph Schwab, OFM stepped down from his role on April 30, at his own request.
He will leave for an extended sabbatical on July 1, 2021, to include time for rest, retreat, study, pilgrimage, and discernment of future ministry work.
“Related to our spirituality as a Franciscan order, we learn to not appropriate things for ourselves. When you are in a leadership position for a long time, you can begin to feel like it is your place. Leadership among staff has moved to a level that allows me to recognize that I can and should move on to other experiences within the Order,” Fr. Joe said.
His dedicated leadership guided new programmatic and fundraising efforts and a culture grounded in Franciscan theology that positively impacted the community, according to a press release.
This leadership includes: developing and articulating a Franciscan culture that is grounded in historical documents; the RENEWING LIVES Capital Campaign, raising more than $20 million for new structures, remodeling of existing buildings, and infrastructure improvements; construction of the friary, the St. Clare Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Assisi Guest Lodge, and the new Our Lady of the Angels Church; the remodeling of guest lodging rooms, and most recently the auditorium and lobby—all with no debt; establishing a robust grant initiative; instituting the Family Catechesis ministry and Sustainability and Communication departments; and creating a more digitized, accessible approach to ministry.
“Fr. Joe has assured that the Franciscan Renewal Center will be able to share the Franciscan charism in the Valley long into the future as a place where people can come to heal, be transformed in their faith, and provide service to others. For all this, we will always be indebted to him,” said Steve Lyons, chair, FRC Board of Directors.
The Provincial Board of Trustees, acting upon the unanimous recommendation of the FRC Board of Directors, have appointed Charles (Charlie) Brown as executive director.
His appointment reflects the Province of Saint Barbara’s commitment to lay collaboration and partnership. Currently, six of the Province’s nine sponsored ministries are led by lay executive directors.
Mr. Brown will be the fourth lay director in the FRC’s 70-year history and has more than 22 years of experience working in a cooperative leadership model with Fr. Joe. Together, they have been effective in directing the FRC, including the RENEWING LIVES Capital Campaign.
Mr. Brown has managed the Casa’s human, financial, and capital resources very successfully while gaining the trust, support, and confidence of other non-profit leaders throughout Maricopa County during his entire tenure as general manager.
Mr. Brown is a staff member of Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs and visited Assisi six times, several times as a co-leader. Grounded in the charism of the Order, Mr. Brown has co-led four 5-year strategic plans and served as chair of the Province Retreat Council for 16 years.
He is an ex officio member of the FRC Board, 22 years, serving on the variety of committees related to the governance of the FRC. Mr. Brown has been involved at every level of FRC operations and ministry.
Mr. Brown will work closely with Our Lady of the Angels Church Rector Fr. Daniel Barica, OFM and the friars, the FRC Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers in guiding the FRC’s future.