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St. Joan of Arc, our Sister Parish

Our Sister Parish--St. Joan of Arc, Plymouth, North Carolina

WHO are the people of St. Joan of Arc?

St. Joan of Arc's leadership consists of Father Aaron Wessman, Pastor, and Julian Crespo, Pastoral Coordinator.

As of 2018, there are 200 active, registered members of St. Joan's.  Eighty-seven percent are Latino.  Many of these parishioners travel close to an hour from several surrounding counties to celebrate Mass.

The parish also has an outreach program for migrant workers who are employed by a coastal seafood factory shelling crabs and oysters in season. Since they do not have the means to travel, members of St. Joan’s bring a Catholic presence to these folks by traveling over an hour to offer Bible study and Liturgy service.

Please visit St. Joan's Parish website to learn more about our Sister Parish:  https://stjoanplymouth.org/

WHAT is a Sister Parish?

In 2011, OLA "adopted" St. Joan of Arc--a small mission parish--as it's "sister".  Since then, our parish has been building a relationship of support with them through prayer, donations, and group visits.  It is through this relationship that we hope to meet the goals of nurturing this Catholic mission parish while they grow more financially established.  St. Joan's will be returned to the care of their diocese when they no longer need the support of the Glenmary Missionaries (see below) and OLA's assistance.

WHERE is St. Joan of Arc Parish?

St. Joan's is located in Plymouth, North Carolina.  Plymouth is the largest town in Washington County in the Northeast corner of the state. Visit this Google Maps link to find out more about Plymouth:    St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church

The History of Glenmary Missioners

Glenmary Home Missioners (GHM) include priests, brothers, and coworkers who are dedicated to establishing a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns of the United States. The GHM Catholic society was founded in 1939 by Father William Howard Bishop, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who saw the need to bring the Catholic Church to people in the United States where the Church is not effectively present.

Glenmary initiated an Adopt-A-Mission, (or sister parish) program that provides financial support to a specific parish.  Each parish relies on weekly Mass offertory collections to make up their general fund. Typically, because of the poverty level within these areas, they do not have the financial means to sustain themselves.  Glenmary finances the individual church budgets. Learn more about the order at:  Glenmary Home Missioners

The History of St. Joan of Arc

Since 1798, St. Joan’s was declared a mission church.  In 1974, the current church was built with the first Mass in the new building offered on June 15, 1975.  The church contained a small kitchen, sacristy, and worship space which was easily transformed into a gathering space for church functions.

In 1990, a Pastoral Administrator was assigned to the Parish by the diocese.

In 2004, the Diocese of Raleigh requested the presence of Glenmary in this area of North Carolina and a priest was provided to lead the congregation. It was an area with few Catholics, a high percentage of unchurched and a high percentage of residents living in poverty.

In 2005 when Glenmary officially took on the responsibility for St. Joan’s, there were 140 Catholics in the county. In 2011 they had 226 registered members with 66 families.  Forty-four were Hispanic and the balance was mostly retired couples.  In 2018, there were 200 active, registered members with 53 families actively attending church. Eighty-seven percent of their members are from Latin America.  The majority are from Mexico, but they also have members from Honduras, Columbia, Peru and Guatemala with one Asian and one African American family.  Their remaining members are Anglo American. Father Aaron Wessman conducts one Mass each weekend in English and the other Mass in Spanish.  Many in the Latino community drive 40-60 minutes to celebrate with their parish family at St. Joan’s. Seventy percent of their members are actually from other counties.

In 2010, a new parish center was built.  A significant part of the building was completed by parishioners.  In addition to worship and gathering space, it currently serves as classrooms for faith formation, adult education and social events for the parishioners.

The History of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish and our Sister Parish, St. Joan of Arc

The idea to support a mission church was generated in an OLA Small Christian Community. After much discussion it was decided that a mission outreach was their goal.  Research led the parish to Glenmary Missioners in 2010.  After approval by the Social Justice Committee, Parish Council and Parish staff, the covenant with St. Joan’s moved forward.  On May 21, 2011, our church signed a covenant agreement with St. Joan of Arc.  The covenant relationship is one of mutual support and prayer, sharing our faith, and striving to maintain an ongoing dialogue with each other.
 
In addition, Our Lady of the Assumption pledged a yearly financial support of $2400 per year. This money goes directly to their operating budget.  Glenmary covers the cost of the outreach ministries, religious education classes, Mass supplies, pastoral associate salary, building maintenance, and other community needs.  Weekly envelopes by the parishioners provide the balance of their budget.
 
Since 2011 OLA parish members have traveled to St. Joan’s three times to work with their parishioners on projects around the church. The projects included painting, landscaping, electrical work, minor building projects and an extended playground area. It is an 18 hour drive to Plymouth so it is a challenge to make the trip every year.
 
Each year, a parish from Baltimore provides all that is needed to run Vacation Bible School for St. Joan’s.  Typically they have between 50-65 children in attendance.
 

The Future

This year, 2019, OLA's annual special collection for St. Joan of Arc will take place at Masses on the weekend of October 12/13.  Last year, we raised more than our goal of $2400.  We look forward to continued generosity from our parish members, as well as prayers for our sister parish members.  Our contribution is used to provide clothes, food, Bible class, special retreats for the adult migrant workers, faith formation for 41 parish children, and financial assistance for parish families over the next year.  

It is unlikely that St. Joan’s will be handed over to the diocese in the near future (a minimum of another 3 years of Glenmary presence is likely). Glenmary will not return the parish to the care of the diocese until they are sure that the community can continue without the financial subsidy provided by Glenmary and the assistance of us, their sister parish.

Current News and Happenings

In July, Vacation Bible School took place at St. Joan of Arc.  See photos above.