By Ebonee Burrell
With 100 years of history, St. Joan of Arc Parish will celebrate its anniversary with events scheduled throughout the year. Founded in October 1920 by Bishop Edward Allen, St. Joan of Arc Parish in Mobile has Reverend E.J. Hackett as its first pastor.
A kickoff at the church will be on May 31, the feast day of St. Joan of Arc. Mass will be at 9 a.m. followed by brunch in the cafeteria known as the Hall of Angels. The kickoff is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to come help celebrate.
A weekend of events will occur Oct. 16 through 18. Friday night will be an adults-only cocktail party at Blacksure Hall, located at 1602 Government St., with a small charge for each individual. Saturday night is family night, and will be held at the school’s cafeteria. Sunday morning brunch will be immediately served after 9 a.m. mass.
Elaine Henderson and Mary McLendon, both graduates of St. Joan of Arc School and members of the Centennial Committee, are hoping to bring back as many students as possible for the celebration.
“It would just be really fun to have as many former parishioners and students to be able to join this celebration because it would bring us back together,” McLendon said.
The first church was a wooden structure that stood for five years before it was replaced by the building that stands today. It was built in an area of town that was growing in Brookleigh. The church is located in the Oakleigh Garden District of Mobile and sits at the corner of Ann and Elmira streets. It still stands a strong, vibrant parish and is being served by the priests from St. Mary’s. Services are weekly at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Henderson described the church as a calm environment with a quaint charm that still holds the same character it did a century ago.
“If you just ride by the church, you get a sense of the community,” Henderson said. “It’s just the charm of going down those streets that some people don’t know about.”
St. Joan of Arc School, located across from the church, opened in 1953 and continued for 27 years until its closing in 1980. This $150,000 school had six classrooms, an office and cafeteria with roughly 26 students in each grade. Sisters of Mercy taught grades one through eight and classes were double-graded, two grades taught in the same classroom.
“We had a lot of friends because we knew everybody [the grade] above us and below us,” Henderson said. “Every other year we were with another grade.”
After the school closed, the building space was used for a variety of groups and served as a temporary home for the Mobile Police Academy. Currently, the classrooms are being rented out to local artists and others to use for studio space.
It is the hope of the Centennial Committee to bring back former parishioners and students to share their memories of St. Joan of Arc and the part it played in their lives.
They are currently searching for volunteers, preferably former parishioners and students, to help with the events this year. If you are interested in helping, call the rectory at 251-431-3505 or email McLendon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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