History of St Joan of Arc Parish

sja eucharist old 450The parish of St Joan of Arc was established in 1921. St Joan of Arc Parish was the second Catholic parish in the greater Brighton area, being separated from St James in North Road (established as a parish in 1890) and followed in 1940 by St Finbar's in Centre Road.

St Joan of Arc, like many Catholic parishes at the time, was first developed as a school with its hall doubling as a church and it was not until 1938 that the present church was built and consecrated.

The initial purchase of 3.5 acres of land from the Wallace Estate for St Joan of Arc was actually made in 1915 for $6020 (paid for by St James Parish) which included the grounds, present presbytery and parish centre, and stables which rumour has it once housed the mighty Carbine, winner of the Melbourne Cup.

In April 1920 the foundation stone was laid and blessed by Archbishop Mannix and the new church/school was opened in March 1921, with Fr P Gibbons the first parish priest and the school staffed by the Presentation Sisters.

The parish was named after our patroness, St Joan of Arc, who led the French army to victory against the English at Orleans in May 1429, and was later burnt at the stake in the market place in Rouen in May 1431. Joan was canonised a saint by Pope Benedict XV on 16 May 1920, and hence one can realise the link between the naming of the Parish and the canonisation of St Joan of Arc.

Over the years the parish has undergone many changes, from the initial school/hall doubling as a church, to the construction and consecration of the church in 1938, and then, over the years, a series of building improvements to the school and church. These building developments have been matched with the development of a growing range of pastoral, religious and community services.

Back in the early 1920s, an era when State Aid to non-government schools was non-existent, all monies for the construction and maintenance of the school, and payment for lay teacher salaries came from the parishioners.

Fortunately, many of the teaching staff at the St Joan of Arc school were members of the Presentation Order of religious sisters. As was the case in so many of our Australian parish schools, the enormous teaching burden carried by these selfless women enabled generations of Catholic men and women to experience a quality general and religious education. Large classes, a lack of resources and inadequate funds did not deter or defeat the fervour and achievements of the Presentation Sisters.

sja frenchnavy 450However, with the decline of vocations to the religious orders, during the 1970s leadership of the school was assumed by Catholic lay teachers. Today we are very fortunate in having a thriving primary school led by our Principal and his highly professional staff of committed lay teachers.

Over the years the parishioners of St Joan of Arc have been served by a number of outstanding parish priests:

Parish Priests

1921 - 1935 Fr Patrick Gibbons

1935 - 1972 Fr Patrick Fennessy

1972 - 1977 Fr John Murphy

1977 - 1991 Fr George Maher

1991 - 1999 Fr Michael McEntee

1999 - 2006 Fr Peter Cross

2006 - 2010 Fr John Salvano

2010 - 2020 Fr Martin Dixon

2020 - Fr David Cartwright and Fr Dean Mathieson