Father Joseph Cao became pastor in July, 2003. Father Joseph declared St. Joan's a Stewardship Parish in January, 2005. What this means is that as a parish, St. Joan's tithes a portion of its offertory each month to various charities within the parish, the community and the extended community.
Among other accomplishments, with Father Joseph's guidance the parish has identified and started to implement a five-year Strategic Plan mapping the course of the parish to the year 2012. Many changes have already been accomplished, most visibly improvements to the interior of the Church. The Easter sunrise mural behind the altar was unveiled during the Easter Vigil, 2007 and is a beautiful addition to our sanctuary.
Most recently, St. Joan's purchased the 7+ acres of land to the east of the Church. In a little more than 3 months, with Father Joseph's support and the generosity of our parishioners, more than $500,000 was raised to buy the property from the Archdiocese.
With the Strategic Plan in place and the new land to develop for the benefit of our parishioners, the possibilities for St. Joan's in this new millenium are exciting and challenging.
In the summer of 2000 Father Timothy Gaines took over from Father Kleiner, and the parish was ready for new challenges. With many others Father Gaines shared the vision for early childhood education and helped to provide a foundation for the solid successes of the Early Learning Center. Father Gaines sought to build upon the parish’s vital traditions and strong support of long-time members in reaching out to the growing area adjacent to the church and the new younger families and youth in the years ahead.
In 1988, Father James E. Kleiner succeeded Father Walsh. He came from Pueblo, Colorado where he served as a hospital chaplain. Father Kleiner had lived for a time in a Benedictine monastic community. There he remembers how he became closely acquainted with Thomas Merton. Father Kleiner expressed a concern for groups that would help people in need such as those in grief, abusive situations, or the hurt and pain of divorce.
During Father Kleiner's 12 years at St. Joan's, the religious education building was remodeled in preparation for development of the Early Learning Center. The lower level of the church was remodeled for use by the Youth and the Religious Education programs. Father Kleiner also began collecting a fine series of religious artworks still enjoyed at St. Joan's.
When Father Michael Walsh arrived in July, 1982, the parish needed more space for staff offices and for the growing religious education and youth programs. Additionally, the need for a more functional fellowship area was recognized. Father Walsh, who served until 1988, took up the challenge and led the parish through its third major building program. The result was a new office complex and the Orleans Hall with its fully equipped commercial kitchen.
In Word and Sacrament Father Walsh spiritually fed the growing congregation. Now, through countless dinners, wedding and funeral receptions and special parish events, people were also being fed and served by St. Joan's kitchen managers and their dedicated volunteers. The services of these people will always be remembered.
The Rev. Father Robert Durrie succeeded Father Rasby in March, 1969, and he presided over the continued growth of the parish. Father Durrie recognized the needs of numerous Catholic families in the mountains to the west. This led to the establishment of the Coal Creek Mission, which still worships each Sunday under their current visiting priest Father Frank Deml. During Father Durrie's tenure, the Youth Center (now the ELC) was built for religious education classes and youth ministry activities. A new Rectory to the east of the church was also erected.
"Go west young man, go west," shares a unique relationship to Colorado. As the Denver suburbs pushed west, Arvada’s growth led to the establishment of St. Joan of Arc Parish on August 22, 1967. Its first pastor, Father James Rasby, was the youngest pastor in the Archdiocese when he was assigned to Shrine of St. Anne’s in Arvada. Some years later that young priest was a bit more seasoned. With his deep devotion to France’s St. Joan, Father Rasby became the logical founding pastor when Archbishop Casey assigned him to the parish.
In those days while the new sanctuary was being built, daily Mass was held in the rectory chapel at 58th and Oak. Sunday Masses were held at Arvada West High School, and special services and Holy Days found the new congregation gathered at King of Glory Lutheran Church. When the church was erected, following the guidelines of Vatican II, it was the most modern designed church in the Archdiocese.
Soon after the newly constructed church was dedicated on March 9, 1969, Father Rasby became the pastor of the Cathedral in Denver. Father fondly remembers celebrating Christmas Masses for over 6,000 people in 1968 before he left. Scores of people were moving west, and they were finding St. Joan of Arc Church.