Bishop Edward Allen established Saint Joan of Arc Parish on October 21, 1920 with Father E.J. Hackett as the first pastor. At first, Mass was celebrated under a canvas shelter on an open lot on the south side of Elmira Street. Later, the men of the parish erected a substantial frame building that served as the church until the present brick building could be built.
On February 22, 1925, Bishop Allen blessed the cornerstone of the present church edifice, and the church building was officially dedicated on February 21, 1926. Adjacent property was purchased and renovated as the parish rectory.
Saint Joan of Arc School was built in 1952 at a cost of $150,000. School opened August 31, 1953 with six classrooms, an office, and cafeteria. There were 90 students, grades 1-4. Two grades were added each year after that until the school had eight grades (two in each classroom). The school was dedicated on March 14, 1954, and was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. The school reached its peak enrollment in 1956 with 220 children. The school served the parish for 27 years, until it closed in 1980 with an enrollment of 98. The declining population came with the closing of Brookley Field and the migration of families to West Mobile. Since then, the school building has served a variety of groups, including time spent as the Leinkauf School (while that school’s permanent building was being rebuilt after a fire) and later the temporary home of the Mobile Police Academy. Currently, the building is being used as studios for local artists and our parish hall.
A number of priests have served the parish. Father Hackett was transferred to Montgomery in 1927 and was succeeded by Father E.B. Kennedy who served the Parish until 1946 when Father James Madigan began a thirty-one year pastorate. Father Madigan was followed by Father Anthony McDevitt, then Fathers John Robinson, John O’Hara, James Oberkirch, Joseph Walsh, S.J., Warren J. Wall, Stephen Staff, Jim Dane, Bill Folsom and Kenneth Klepac. Father Matthew Venuti has been the Parochial Administrator since 2014.
Father Francis O’Connor served as Father Madigan’s first assistant in 1947. At his departure to the missions of Peru, Father Francis Nolan succeeded him as first assistant, followed by other associate pastors including Fathers Hugh McGuire, Brendan Kellar, Ed Dzienkiewitcz, Adrian Cook, Russell Biven, Eamon Miley, Walter Furan, S.J., Emmanuel Madu, Patrick Madden, and Stephen Staff.