A Catholic School
We are first and foremost a Catholic school, inspired by the example of St Joan of Arc who, although only young, remained true to her faith despite the many challenges presented to her.
Our Catholic ethos is more than the religious activity that takes place. Our students grow in an atmosphere permeated by the Gospel values of love, forgiveness and compassion. All are valued for who they are - pupils and staff. We aim to develop an awareness of the needs of others and the importance of service throughout the community.
Our mission is simple; 'Love Christ, Inspire Others'.
We want all members of our community, whether Catholic or not, to come to understand that they are first loved by Christ. This in turn calls us to respond in love both in worship of God and service of others in accordance with the Great Commandment:
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
At St Joan's pupils will have their faith formed by a wide range of prayer, liturgy and retreat experiences supported by high quality RE lessons and a range of service opportunities.
Our school is proud of its chapel and long history of full-time chaplains appointed for the pastoral and spiritual care of pupils, staff and their families. With the support of other key staff and pupils, we aim to provide the highest possible level of support for each member of our community.
DAY TO DAY
The expectation is that every day begins with an opportunity to pray. This allows our pupils to prepare themselves for the day ahead, grateful for the opportunities they have and ready to make the most of them. Further opportunities for prayer and reflection take place in tutor contact time (TCT) and assemblies each day.
The chapel is also open every day for personal prayer. A team of pupils and staff lead Morning Prayer of the Church (Lauds) and seasonal devotionals (Advent, Lent, Rosary etc.) before school throughout the year.
Chaplaincy is a key part of our pastoral care and pupils are able to speak with the Chaplain should they want to. Prayer and reflection are central to our care and practice throughout the pastoral team.
In addition to our outdoor, whole-school Masses which begin and end the school year, our younger pupils are welcomed to join the parish of Our Lady’s Help of Christians at their weekday Masses. Pupils in years 7 & 8, attend Mass as part of their retreat days and for their Advent and Lent Masses. Pupils in years 9 to 13 have their own Masses in half-year groups. Each year group has their own priest, who will journey with the cohort throughout these years until their leaver’s Masses.
Each of our four Houses - Bakhita, Jerome, Kolbe & Romero - gather together to celebrate their patron’s feast day. These Masses are currently being celebrated in Watersmeet Theatre to allow the whole house to come together from years 7 to 13.
All pupils are able and welcomed to attend Mass and we support those who are not Catholic or not practising to participate as fully as they are able.
All year groups have the opportunity to take time to withdraw from the busyness of life and reflect. Year 7s begin their time at St Joan of Arc with an induction retreat aimed at giving them the confidence to be their true selves as God has created them to be and bonding them with their new peers and the wider community.
Year 8s conclude the year with a retreat-walk in the Chess Valley. The valley provides a physical metaphor to reflect on the highs and lows of the year that has been in an examen-style retreat surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation right on our doorstep.
Years 11 and 13 have day retreats on the theme of discernment as they prepare to make big decisions about their future. Discernment is the prayerful act of listening to God whilst we consider the choices we have, and allow his Spirit to guide us in the decisions we make.
Years 9, 10 and 12 have the opportunity to attend a residential retreat. The optional participation in these retreats allows like-minded pupils to grow deeper in their faith supported by a peer-ministry team. For those that attend, retreats are often a highlight of their time at school.
THE WHOLE PERSON
As a Catholic School we believe in providing both curriculum and enrichment opportunities that encourage pupils to develop their God-given talents whether academic, technical, artistic or sporting. We believe in developing the whole person, equipping and empowering them to achieve their potential and contribute to their communities.
THE CATHOLIC TRADITION OF ST JOAN'S
St Joan of Arc Catholic School was established in Rickmansworth in 1904 by the Daughters of Jesus, a religious order founded in Brittany in 1834. In 1904 the school opened with five pupils from which St Joan's gradually grew and became a Girls Grammar School. In 1978 the school came under the Trusteeship of the Diocese of Westminster (RCDOW) and admitted boys for the first time. In 2012 the School converted to become a Catholic Academy under the Trusteeship of the RCDOW.
Since March 2004, St Joan of Arc have held many fundraising events with the aim of supporting Udayan, and of spreading awareness in the local community about the work it carries out for the children of leprosy sufferers in Calcutta, India and 20 years later the partnership between St Joan of Arc and Udayan is still going strong.
What is Udayan?
Udayan is a home for children affected by leprosy in Bengali, Udayan means dawn or resurrection, and by providing children who might otherwise be shunned at the first sign of the disease and reduced to a life of begging, crime or prostitution, with accommodation, education and medical care, the home seeks to give them a new beginning. It was founded in 1970 by James Stevens who, after spending two years in India, felt called to serve the poor. When he asked Mother Teresa who amongst, the poorest of the poor, she felt were most in need, her response was unhesitating: the children of lepers.
Today Udayan is home to some 300 boys and girls, aged between 4 and 18, who are looked after by about 30 staff. Leprosy is a curable disease. With multi-drug therapy, a nutritious diet, a clean environment, exercise such as yoga, dance and cricket, and proper treatment of any other medical conditions, the children can be restored to health allowing them to rise above leprosy breaking the intergenerational cycle of the disease.
Our visits to Udayan
In February 2005 a group of Sixth Formers from St Joan’s, along with two members of staff, travelled to Calcutta to visit Udayan and to offer their services to the home. Following the success of the first trip, another seven trips have been to visit Udayan and in February 2024 the school’s ninth trip will be heading out to Calcutta for two weeks to visit Udayan, meet the children and learn more about the work of the charity. The itineraries of each of these trips have incorporated religious places of significance to the major faiths in India, and the journeys which took on something of the nature of a pilgrimage were recorded on a daily basis.
During the Sixth Form’s previous trip in 2019 the team created a series of videos, find out more about education at Udayan by clicking here.
About City of Joy Aid, UK
Udayan is supported by City of Joy Aid, UK a registered charity in England and Wales (Registered Charity Number: 1080812), set up by Dominique Lapierre and his wife following the enormous success of his book and film about the indomitable spirit of the poor of Calcutta: “The City of Joy”. Because Udayan was founded by an Englishman, the UK charity has a particularly close relationship with it and the 300 or so children cared for there. The charity also acts as a conduit for funds intended for other NGOs, to which Dominique Lapierre committed support.
Further information about Udayan and fundraising activities in the UK can be found on the their website www.CityofJoyAidUK.org. Feel free to let others know the site is here so that they too can find out about Udayan and hopefully begin to support it.