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Looking Back: St. Joan of Arc celebrates anniversaries in 2017

St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 13, 2017


St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Parish was established in December 1927 by Detroit’s bishop, Michael James Gallagher, making the parish 90 years old this year. The parish’s first pastor was the Rev. Joseph L. Fillion. The first Mass was celebrated on Dec. 8, 1927, in the “Newberry Stores.”

In 1929, the parish purchased the former Wheat School building (actually, two sections of the old wood frame of the school) and moved it from its location at Harper Avenue and Town Hall Road (now 11 Mile Road) to the parish site at Greater Mack and Overlake Street to serve as the first St. Joan of Arc Church. The structure was known as the “chicken coop church” because of the shape of the building.

In 1945, construction began on the parish school building. St. Joan of Arc Elementary School opened in 1947 under the care of the Sisters of St. Joseph from Nazareth, Michigan.  The school is celebrating its 70th birthday this year.

Ground was broken for the current church on Feb. 23, 1964; the cornerstone was laid on May 28 of the same year. The current St. Joan of Arc Church was dedicated by Archbishop John Francis Dearden on Aug. 25, 1965.

In this image from before 1943, one can see the “chicken coop church” behind the shrine to St. Joan of Arc by Dionsius Rodriguez.

To view this image and other historical photographs, please visit the Digital Media Archive at

— Submitted by Heidi Christein, archivist, St. Clair Shores Public Library