Dr. Monica Orozco Appointed Executive Director
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For the first time in its almost 230 year history, a laywoman will oversee the Old Mission San Barbara instead of a Franciscan friar.
Santa Barbara native Monica Orozco began her job as the new executive director of the historic mission effective Aug. 1, 2016. Orozco has served for the past seven years as director of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library in Santa Barbara.
The mission is one of 21 missions established in California by St. Juníper Serra and later Franciscan friars. Friar Fermín Lasuén founded Mission Santa Barbara on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, as the tenth mission in the chain. Old Mission Santa Barbara is the only California Mission which has been in continuous operation under the auspices of the Franciscan friars since its founding.
A friar has traditionally been both the guardian of the friar community and the administrative head of the mission. Now, Dr. Orozco will take her place on the Old Mission’s executive leadership team, which consists of Friar Adrian Peelo, OFM, pastor of Saint Barbara Parish; Friar Regan Chapman, OFM, guardian of the Franciscan friar community at Old Mission Santa Barbara; and former Interim Executive Director Christina Sumpter.
In addition, Orozco will work closely with the various groups both at the Old Mission and in the extended Santa Barbara community to further Franciscan efforts in outreach and witness.
“I am personally very pleased to make this announcement,” Provincial Minister David Gaa, OFM, said. “It is the culmination of much effort on the part of many of my fellow friars and of lay leaders in Santa Barbara, past and present.
“This appointment affirms the extraordinary contributions and effective leadership that Dr. Orozco has demonstrated consistently over time. She possesses the skills of a true professional, while at the same time approaching her work with a real Franciscan heart,” Gaa said.
In response to her appointment, Orozco stated, “I am both excited to further our mission at the Old Mission, and yet at the same time grateful and humbled at the confidence that the friars have shown in me. I am especially appreciative of the support of all the dedicated staff and volunteers who give so much of themselves.”
Orozco is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she received her doctorate in Latin American history. Specializing in 19th century Mexico, she has placed her particular emphasis on the study of both Catholic and Protestant missionary movements among indigenous peoples there.
She is also an active member of Saint Barbara Parish at the Old Mission.
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