Generations of Catholic families have spent their lives living in Harrowgate with St. Joan of Arc Church being the core of their neighborhood. Baptisms, marriages, funerals, Christmas Mass and so much in between — St. Joan of Arc Church has served families well.
On Sunday, October 20th, hundreds gathered to celebrate the Centennial of St. Joan of Arc Church — the 100th Year Anniversary!
St. Joan of Arc Church was established on October 1, 1919 by Msgr. Edward Hawks, a larger than life figure who was a convert from Anglicanism. Originally ordained an Anglican priest in England, he went to Canada after his conversion to Catholicism, to study for the Catholic priesthood. After ordination, he was asked to come to Philadelphia by Archbishop Dennis Cardinal Dougherty to serve the area of Harrowgate in Philadelphia, named for a neighborhood in London which was an enclave of British Catholics. Msgr. Hawks was a public preacher and often evangelized in Harrowgate Park and McPherson Square. The first parishioners were immigrant workers in the myriad of factories which were part of Philadelphia’s gave into self-pity. “She showed determination”. She received Holy Communion of the very day of her martyrdom.
Bishop Deliman said that people of diverse backgrounds have passed through the doors of St. Joan of Arc for 100 years — a welcoming place, a place of prayers, a safe place. “We’re all made in the image and likeness of God.”
Sister Linda Lukiewski, Pastoral Minister of the Mission of Saint Joan of Arc, led the organizing of the joyous celebration. She thanked Fr. Tom Higgins, Pastor of Holy Innocents, who has helped maintain a religious site in Harrowgate and help it grow since it merged with Holy Innocents 6 years ago.
Due to the changing demographic in the neighborhood, St. Joan of Arc School closed in 2003 and the Parish merged with Holy Innocents Parish in June 2013. Since that time, although not a canonical parish, the Mission of St. Joan of Arc has continued to provide spiritual nourishment for the people of the area through Sunday Masses, a religious education program, an afterschool program, a food pantry and other social service programs.
Sr. Lukiewski said that St. Joan of Arc Church has truly played a significant part in the story of Harrowgate during the past hundred years. “We are grateful to the many people who have helped to maintain this Church and continue its mission in a neighborhood which is in more need than ever of its’ presence.”
Bishop Deliman concluded the Mass by saying “As I’m writing my book, the next chapter will go something like this: I walked down the middle of Frankford Avenue behind Joan of Arc on a real live horse.”