This past month saw the initiation of Swords of Joan, a new women’s household on campus that was officially instituted at the household life Mass Friday, Jan. 22, in Finnegan Fieldhouse.
The founders turned to St. Joan of Arc as an example of a feminine saint who was imperfect like them yet attained holiness and set a paramount example of strength and courage. They took as their own the motto “Go Bravely,” which St. Joan would use to exhort her soldiers in battle.
The whole idea of starting a new household came up at a girls’ night get-together in September 2020 when several people began talking about different households that they had looked into, but none had found exactly what they were looking for. One young woman present, sophomore Isabella Kuklica, suggested that the friend group should just found its own household; and the idea gained popularity and momentum from there.
Sophomore Anna Santoro, the coordinator for Swords of Joan, said that as the plans progressed, there was rarely any real doubt that their new household was meant to be, even though the founders didn’t always have clear sailing.
“Things would just always fall into place after we step back and give it to the Lord,” said sophomore Bella Klapperich, one of the founding members.
“There were just so many signs that this is what we were supposed to be doing,” said Santoro.
Wearing their household sweatshirts and carrying their banner and sword after their first household life Mass, the six original members climbed up to the stage as the Rev. Matthew Russick, TOR, announced the official beginning of the Swords of Joan household.
“We were the first ever household to actually have our gear ready on the day of,” said Santoro with a laugh.
Swords of Joan’s special household item, a sword, was blessed during the Mass. It is decorated in multiple places with the fleur-de-lis, the symbol from St. Joan of Arc’s banner. Just as St. Joan of Arc held her sword downward so that it resembled a cross and never drew it in battle, the members of Swords of Joan held their sword downwards during their initiation ceremony.
“(The sword) signifies the spiritual battles she fought, and that we will try to fight,” Santoro explained.
Swords of Joan’s household banner holds a gold fleur-de-lis against a royal blue background, patterned after St. Joan’s own banner that she carried into battle.
From the very start, Swords of Joan has attracted a great deal of notice and interest. Though many visitors first heard of them at the household Mass, word of mouth also played a large part in spreading interest.
“It was insane,” said Santoro. “We had 17 visitors on our first Lord’s Day.”
Swords of Joan already has intents, the first intent approaching them for information directly after the household life Mass. As of Feb. 6, they’ve already gained two more.
Their household commitments include attending 6:30 a.m. Mass biweekly, going to confession on Mondays, reciting the rosary on Wednesday evenings, and Lord’s Day celebrations on Saturdays.
At their Lord’s Days, the household members take the opportunity to discuss moral topics and how to practice them in the world. They also make personal resolutions for the coming week, which typically includes some small, personal religious devotion, and holding each other accountable for these resolutions throughout the week.
“And we sing,” Klapperich added. “We all love to sing.”
Though the household hopes to have a common room in the Saints Kolbe and Clare Hall starting next semester, for now they are meeting in an Egan classroom for their devotions and Lord’s days. More information on Swords of Joan can be found on their Instagram page, @swordsofjoan.
“We’d love to have anyone who wants to come, even just to hang out or pray the rosary with us,” said Santoro.