Pastor’s Message

Very Rev. Nestor L. Rodriguez, V.F.
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church 


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Dear Parents, Parishioners, and Staff of St. Joan of Arc,

I hope you are having a wonderful and restful summer thus far. Several weeks ago, I announced to you that Miss Lani Hiponia had resigned as principal of St. Joan of Arc Catholic School. My commitment to you at that time was that finding a new principal was my top priority and that I was forming a discernment committee to assist in accomplishing this task. In conjunction with that committee and after carefully considering the needs of our school and students, I am very excited to share with all of you that Mrs. Rita Kissel will be rejoining the St. Joan of Arc Family as our new principal effective July 17, 2023.

Mrs. Kissel has worked for the Diocese of Palm Beach for over 20 years in several capacities, the last seven as the Principal of St. Clare Catholic School in North Palm Beach where she excelled in her role and was able to increase enrollment, student and parent involvement, curriculum standards and test scores. She truly transformed the school and is loved by her students, parents, and colleagues throughout not only St. Clare but the Diocese.

For those of you that do not know Mrs. Kissel, she is no stranger to the St. Joan of Arc Family. Prior to becoming the principal at St. Clare, she was the Media Coordinator and Dean of Discipline and Student Affairs for St. Joan for more than seven years. During that time, she developed a connection with St. Joan that she is looking forward to continuing to foster in her new role. She knows the potential that St. Joan of Arc has and is committed to making it a beacon of the diocese once again.

Rita holds a Masters in Elementary Education and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership in addition to Florida Teaching Certificates in Elementary Education, Educational Media Specialist, and Educational Leadership. Rita has a personal connection with St. Joan of Arc Parish and School outside of her professional successes she has accomplished here. Her family became members of St. Joan of Arc Parish when she moved with her sisters and parents to Boca in 1979. Mrs. Kissel married her husband David Kissel in 1993 and they have four children: David, Ryan, Emily and Guiliana. Emily and Guiliana are St. Joan of Arc Alumni and all their children attended Catholic high schools in the area. Mrs. Kissel and her family have been on and off members of St. Joan of Arc as they have moved around Palm Beach County over the past 30 years, and you will probably see her at 7:30am Mass on Sunday mornings with her mom.

During the past month I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our parents and teachers and you have shared with me your love and dedication for our parish and school. You also shared your concerns and worries for the future of St. Joan of Arc. A big area of concern was the lack of stability that we have seen with principals the last few years and I believe that Mrs. Kissel will offer the stability we need. Mrs. Kissel is very excited to rejoin the St. Joan of Arc family and help make our school the best Catholic learning experience for children in the Boca Raton and surrounding areas. A Catholic education is a gift for our children where church, school and family work together to provide everything necessary for them to become successful, faith-filled, good people. 

We are currently in the process of finalizing the school calendar for the upcoming school year. Once this is finalized, we will be scheduling a night at the beginning of August for all of you to have the opportunity to meet Mrs. Kissel and learn more about her goals and visions for St. Joan of Arc.

I am thankful for your patience during this transition. May the Lord continue to shower many blessings upon our Parish and School. 

Sincerely in Christ,

Very Rev. Nestor Rodriguez V.F.

“I am the drum on which God is beating out His message.” ~ “I place trust in God, my creator, in all things; I love Him with all my heart.” ~ Joan of Arc



Monday, June 12, 2023

Dear Parents, I pray that you and your families are enjoying a restful and lovely summer break.

I truly appreciate your commitment to St. Joan of Arc and to your children’s education. Your willingness to assist in ensuring that St Joan of Arc continues to be the beacon that it is, shows why Catholic education is so important to our youth.

Identifying a principal to help continue the legacy of our school is my number one priority. With that being said, I want you to know that my goal is to hire an individual with experience as both a principal and a Catholic educator. The interview panel that has been put together includes employees from the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, local pastors, principals, and experts in the field of education.

I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from parents, like yourself, that have volunteered their time to assist in this process. Because of this overwhelming support there would be no way to just pick one or two parents to participate in this panel and to ensure fairness to all, I have made the decision to limit the panel to the individuals I outlined previously. 

My hope is to announce the placement of the new principal as soon as possible and once that is concluded, we’ll be setting up a meeting for parents to meet this individual, so that you will have the opportunity to share your hopes and goals for the future of St Joan of Arc School. Your support will be critical to our success.

Please continue to pray for our school during this time of transition. I am confident that the new academic year will be a truly blessed one. God Bless our school and our dear families. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Nestor Rodriguez


May 30, 2023

My dear parents and guardians of our children,

As your new pastor, I have made the commitment to keep all of you informed of changes and happenings at our school. In keeping with that commitment, I wanted to share with all of you that Miss Lani Hiponia has made the difficult decision to resign her position as principal at St. Joan of Arc School to focus on some personal matters in her life, and that I have accepted her resignation effective June 21, 2023.

Miss Hiponia has given 10 wonderful years of ministry and service to St Joan of Arc in her current role as principal and her previous roles as assistant principal and teacher. We have been blessed to have been a part of her journey at St. Joan of Arc and are grateful for her dedication, hard work, loyalty, and love for our school and children. Please keep Miss Hiponia in your prayers as she embarks on her new journey.

I understand that this news may cause some of you a sense of unrest, but I assure you that the hiring of a new principal is my top priority. In consultation with the Superintendent and the Diocese, I am beginning the process of selecting a hiring committee and beginning the search for a new qualified principal. During the summer, I will keep you posted on any new developments and as soon as a selection is made, that information will be shared with all of you.

I thank you in advance for your prayers during this time of transition. I truly trust that God in His Divine providence will guide and bless us abundantly. Your children are indeed your greatest gift from God and I thank you for entrusting us with their education and spiritual wellbeing. We take the trust you have placed in us very seriously.

Thank you for your patience with us during this time. May you have a restful and beautiful summer.

God bless your dear families and our beautiful school of St. Joan of Arc. Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father Nestor Rodriguez


Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!! Christ Has Risen!!

My dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  This  is what Easter is all about. Yes, Jesus overcame the power of evil and death in His resurrection. This does not mean evil and death no longer exist in the world.  And, because they do exist, many people discount Jesus’ resurrection. It is true, the resurrection has not removed evil and death from the face of the earth, but it tells us evil and death will not have the last word. They are not the final outcome; they cannot ultimately defeat us if we share Christ’s life. Today we celebrate Jesus’ victory and our own. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”

May the Easter celebration inspire us to live today with a new resolve to surrender our concerns and worries to the Lord. May your families be blessed with joy, peace and love.

Have a Blessed Easter, and thank you for everything you do for St. Joan of Arc Parish.

With love and prayers.

Very Rev. Nestor Rodriguez V.F.


Aleluya, Aleluya, Aleluya!! Cristo Ha Resucitado!!

Mis queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Jesús dijo: “Yo soy la resurrección y la vida; todo el que cree en mí, aunque muera, vivirá; y todo el que vive y cree en mí, no morirá jamás.”  De esto se trata la Pascua. Jesús venció el poder del mal y la muerte en Su resurrección. Esto no significa que el mal y la muerte ya no existan en el mundo. Y, debido a que, si existen, muchas personas rechazan la Resurrección de Jesús. Es cierto, la resurrección de la muerte no tienen la última palabra. No son el resultado final; no pueden derrotarnos si compartimos la vida de Cristo. Hoy celebramos la Victoria de Jesús y la nuestra. “Este es el día que hizo el Señor. Regocijémonos y alegrémonos.”

Que la celebración de la Pascua nos inspire a vivir hoy con una nueva determinación de entregar nuestras
inquietudes y preocupaciones al Señor. Que sus familias sean bendecidas con alegría, paz y amor.
Con mi amor y mis oraciones les desea,

Very Rev. Nestor Rodriguez V.F.


My dear brothers and sisters,

It is with a humble and grateful heart that I have accepted Bishop Barbarito’s appointment as Pastor of St Joan of Arc in Boca Raton effective January 1, 2023. Although, due to previous commitments at my current parish of St. Ann in West Palm Beach, I will remain as pastor there until February 6, 2023. During this time, I will be commuting back and forth to both parishes.

I look forward to starting a new chapter in my priestly ministry at St. Joan of Arc. It was at St. Joan that I began my journey to the priesthood in the Diocese of Palm Beach in 1991 as a seminarian, and transitional deacon. I had the blessing to celebrate my first Mass at St. Joan of Arc. I have fond memories of the parish, and have maintained some close friendships throughout my close to thirty years of priestly ministry.

I was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and have one beautiful sister, two amazing brothers, and several nieces and nephews. Both of my parents are deceased. Our beloved mother died in a tragic automobile accident in 1982. She passed on our Catholic faith to us in our formative years, and continues to keep us together as a very close family from heaven above. We continue to miss her dearly. I am convinced that she planted the seed to my priestly vocation through her example, and love for God.

Prior to my seminary studies, I was a manager at Rite Aid Pharmacy for some years, and studied Biology at Mercer County College for two years before transferring to a college seminary. Then, I continued my studies at the Josephinum College seminary in Columbus, Ohio. After graduation, I continued my theological studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. During another year of further discernment, I taught in a Catholic school in Jersey City. My continued discernment brought me to the Diocese of Palm Beach where I concluded my seminary formation at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach. I was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ on September 3, 1993 at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

I will continue to build on the legacy that Mgr. Michael McGraw has handed down to me, and am grateful to him for his many years of service, dedication and love for the parishioners of St. Joan of Arc.  I know that together with your help and God’s guidance, St Joan of Arc Parish and School will continue to grow in faith, hope, and love. I am excited and humbled to journey together in our faith. Please keep me in your prayers. I assure you of mine at the Holy Altar of Sacrifice at St Joan of Arc where I celebrated my first Mass. All honor and glory to Jesus Christ.

Sincerely yours,

Father Nestor Rodriguez

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church Pastor