St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church
768 Asbury Rd, Candler, NC 28715
Our Journey in Faith -- 1926-1940
Our Journey in Faith -- 1940-1962
Our Journey in Faith -- 1962-Present
Our Heritage

 

 

In its 76th year, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church broke the mold.

On Aug. 1, 2004, Bishop Peter J. Jugis came to a gently rolling farm field just west of town -- the site for a planned new St. Joan of Arc Church -- to both celebrate Mass and lend his support to what the parish calls “Our Journey of Faith.”
 

 

The first Catholic churches in the eastern United States and their attendant parochial schools were built in the urban centers by first- and second-generation European immigrants.
 

  As these mainly blue-collar families worked their way into the middle class and moved to the suburbs, they rebuilt their churches where they lived. The continuing migration of Catholics has meant overcrowded parishes had to expand or relocate -- a process that continues today.
 
  The difference with St. Joan of Arc Church is that it has moved in advance of the demographic wave. The reasons lay rooted in the history of the parish.
 
  In 1927, to serve the growing Catholic population in west Asheville, a group of St. Lawrence Church parishioners, under the leadership of Father Louis J. Bour, purchased the 12-room Gardner House on the corner of Blue Ridge Avenue and Haywood Road.
 

One room was remodeled as a chapel; the rest was put into service as the first parochial school in western North Carolina. Bishop William J. Hafey of Raleigh named it for St. Joan of Arc, the 15th-century French virgin warrior who had been canonized seven years before. There were about 70 youngsters in the first student body.
 

A year later, Father Frank Gallagher was appointed as St. Joan of Arc Church’s first pastor.
 
In 1936, St. Joan of Arc Church built a 40-by-80 foot auditorium that was pressed into service as a temporary chapel, the plan being to build a permanent church “within a year or two.” But the remodeled and expanded “auditorium” remained longer than its original intended design.
 
In 1950, the first part of a brick building -- four classrooms and an auditorium -- was built.


In 1955, St. Lawrence Church opened its own parochial school on Culvern Street in north Asheville. But the bishop decided to split the St. Lawrence parish, establishing St. Eugene Church next door to the school and changing the school’s affiliation to St. Eugene.
 
Shortly thereafter, Bessie Prime, an elderly St. Joan of Arc parishioner who lived in a stately home at the intersection of Blue Ridge Avenue and Craggy Avenue and rode around town in a Packard limousine driven by a chauffeur in livery, bequeathed her residence to the church in 1960.

The house, a block from the church and school, became a convent for the sisters teaching at St. Joan of Arc School.
 
During the 1962-63 school year, St. Joan of Arc School built a 95-by-119-foot brick addition that housed four additional classrooms, a kitchen and gymnasium/cafeteria to serve the 210 students in kindergarten through eighth grades. The Gardner House was demolished, making way for a parking lot.
 
In 1968, the Franciscans concluded they could no longer shoulder the financial strain of operating St. Anthony School in south Asheville for African-American children. St. Joan of Arc School accepted all the children who wanted to continue with their parochial education.
 
With a decline in the numbers of religious who were available to teach, running a parochial school became an increasing financial drain. In 1980, St. Joan of Arc School closed and the students transferred to the renamed Asheville Catholic School at St. Eugene Church, which was newer and larger.
 
The convent became offices for Catholic Social Services after the school closed and later became the church’s rectory when CSS moved their offices to Orange Street in 1997.

In 2000 the parish family began the process of discernment, leading to the brave new chapter in our living history.  In 2004 the St. Joan of Arc's parish family began the initial Capital Campaign and purchased a 13-acre site on Asbury Road, beginning actual construction in 2006.

Finally in the spring of 2007, construction was complete and St. Joan of Arc of Haywood Road in Asheville moved its community to its beautiful new home on Asbury Road in the peaceful and pastoral setting of Candler.  
             
      Listed below are the individual fact sheets shared in our bulletin in May 2017 in celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary at our Asbury Road site.
  1. First fact sheet
  2. Second fact sheet
  3. Third fact sheet
  4. Fourth fact sheet
             

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