St Joan of Arc
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St Joan of Arc
118 New Street, Brighton, Vic 3186
St James
73 North Road, Brighton, Vic 3186
Fr. Martin Dixon
(03) 9593 1703
Mon, Tue, Thu – 9am to 1pm


History of St Joan of Arc Parish

The 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 past 80 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.

Today St Joan of Arc's parish numbers some 550 families, nearly all of whom live within our parish boundaries. While there have been substantial change over the years, the role of the school has always been paramount in the life of the parish. The school roll numbered 54 children in 1921; today (2011) there are over 250 children.

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.

However, 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 of our present Principal, Tony McMahon, and his highly professional staff of committed lay teachers.

One of the most striking features of our parish life is that, over the past 30 years, lay people have taken a far more active role in day-to-day parish life, a trend repeated throughout the Catholic Church in Australia. At St Joan of Arc we have an elected Parish Pastoral Council and a Finance Committee which oversee the workings of the parish.

There are some 25 different groups functioning within the parish, all led by lay parishioners and some assisted by the parish. Such groups include the Catechetics Group which provides religious instruction in our local government schools; the Care Group whose members provide food and day to day assistance to Parish families in crisis; the St Vincent de Paul Conference whose members assist families and individuals, no matter what religious persuasion, in Brighton and Hampton with food hampers, emergency housing, house hold goods, professional assistance, and voluntary help at the St Vincent de Paul Centre in Hampton.

Several of our parishioners have been actively involved with the Matthew Talbot Soup Van that ministers to those who dwell in run-down boarding houses, commission flats, and the streets of inner suburban Melbourne. Other parish groups include the Prayer Group, the Mass Preparation Group, the Piety Stall Team, the Friends of Mary, the Charismatic Prayer Group, the Meditation Group, the Lay Readers, Ministers of the Eucharist, the Choir and Music Ministry, the Mass Servers, those who minister to the sick and elderly, the collectors and counters, and parishioners who assist with Baptism and Marriage Preparation and those who prepare our parish children for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist and Confirmation.

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 -               Fr Martin Dixon

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