OUR HISTORY: ST JOAN OF ARC
St. Joan of Arc parish enjoys a long and rich history dating back to August 23, 1923 when Archbishop Messmer brought the parish into existence with the blessing and laying of the church cornerstone. The name St. Joan of Arc was chosen as she was the most recently named saint of the church, canonized in 1920. The land was purchased for the church for $1,450 from Mr. Schruedenbzch through the efforts of James McGill. Brust and Phillips were hired as architects. The pastor, Monsignor Traudt, determined the style of architecture for the new church, a Spanish mission stucco design.
Other historical dates of the parish include:
- June 15, 1924: The first recorded Baptism: Charles Lawrence Casper, son of Bernardus Casper and Juliana Crinon.
- June 17, 1928: First confirmation class of 48 confirmands: Archbishop S. G. Messmer, minister of the sacrament.
- March 1, 1939: Holy Name Society formed: Joseph Neisen, President; Anthony Bell, Secretary; Joseph Stingle, Treasurer.
- 1939: Christian Mother-Alter Society formed: Mer. H. Bernhardt, President; Mrs. Frank Klier, Secretary; Ruth Bell, Treasurer.
- January 4, 1943: The rectory was purchased from Clarence Hidahl. Fr. Whelan was the first resident.
- 1947: Three acres of land was purchased for a parish cemetery on Brown Street (two miles North of the parish). Claude Vanderboom was the first parishioner buried in the cemetery in 1948.
- October 5, 1954: Blessing of the St. Joan of Arc School cornerstone.
- September 1955: St. Joan of Arc School opened with less than 100 pupils, six grades in four classrooms. Sister M. Lucas, O.S.F., Principal.
- June 19, 1969: Parish School Board voted to suspend operations of the day school due to insufficient enrollment, loss of teaching sisters and lack of financial support.
- September, 1969: Parish opens a school of region with weekly instructions for 400 students.
- August, 1978: St. Joan of Arc School re-opens.
- December 21, 1997: St. Joan of Arc church in Okauchee is closed.
- December 24, 1997: First mass in the new church building of 600 seats on Nashotah Road is celebrated with standing room only. Many of the religious and artistic items from the original church were incorporated in the new church building including the stained glass windows in the Day chapel and the alter tabernacle in the Eucharistic chapel.
- August 25, 2002: The new Religious Education Center is dedicated by Bishop Richard Sklba.
Parish Pastor History
- Msgr. Bernard Traudt was the founder of the parish and its first pastor. Although his work as Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese consumed most of his time, he organized the parish and built the church of St. Joan of Arc in Okauchee. His admiration of Spanish architecture influenced his design to build the church in the Spanish mission stucco design.
- Fr. George Miller served the parish from 1925 to 1930, at which time he chose to work in Mantador, North Dakota.Fr. John Durnin, a genial and gentle man, was pastor from 1930 to 1934. He later served St. Clement’s and Holy Rosary parishes. He retired in November 1968, and died January 12, 1971.
- Fr. Mathias Helfin became pastor on June 8, 1934. In 1941 he became full-time director of the Dramatic Movement and directed plays at St. Francis Seminary. He died in May of 1955.
- Fr. Lincoln F. Whelan came to St. Joan of Arc in October of 1941. For over 25 years he labored zealously in the parish community which included Nashotah, Delafield, Stone Bank, Okauchee and Mapleton. In 1943 he became resident pastor of St. Joan’s. He died July 26, 1991.
- Fr. Joseph Konkel, after teaching at St. Francis Seminary for 25 years, came to St. Joan of Arc parish on June 8, 1967. Extensive repair work took place after 1967, with considerable renovation of the interior of the church. Fr. Konkel died February 4, 1986.
- Msgr. John F. Murphy came to St. Joan of Arc in November, 1981, after years of being a pastor at St. Bruno, Dousman and St. Joseph, Wauwatosa. Fr. Murphy saw St. Joan of arc grow rapidly through the 1980’s and 90’s. Fr. Murphy retired from St. Joan of Arc in 1992 but returned to assist with Monday morning mass until his death on October 4, 2005.
- Fr. James P. Loehr, after 23 years as teacher and principal of Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, he became pastor at St. Joan of Arc in June, 1992. Fr. Howard Haase and Fr. Ed Carroll assisted at Saturday and Sunday masses. Under Fr. Loehr’s leadership, St. Joan of Arc continued to grow as a parish. Construction of a much needed new church building on Nashotah road began in May of 1997. This was followed by the construction of the Religious Education Center in August, 2001. Fr. Loehr left St. Joan of Arc in 2004 to become the pastor at St. John Newmann in Waukesha, WI.
- Fr. Michael D. Strachota, our current pastor, came to St. Joan of Arc in June 2004 with 25 years of experience at Corpus Christi, Our Lady of Laurdes and St. Kilian parishes in the Milwaukee area. Fr. Mike’s passion is best seen in his energy for the celebration of the Mass and other sacramental rituals. Fr. Chuck Beierwalters has given regular assistance with Monday morning mass as well as plays the drums for the weekend masses.