St. Martha’s Church is located in the Kent Heights section of East Providence and was established September 13, 1956, by the most Rev. Russell J. McVinney, D.D., Bishop of Providence. Bishop McVinney named the Rev. Joseph F. Bracq, S.T.D., the first pastor, who was later elevated to Monsignor. Among Msgr. Bracq’s many accomplishments was the establishment of the Rosary and Altar Society, which continues to this day.
At its foundation there were about 650 families, almost evenly divided by former parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in East Providence and St. Brendan Church in Riverside. The church and adjoining rectory was built by the contractor, Joseph P. Flynn, of Providence. Michael Traficante, A.I.A., Of East Providence, was the architect.
The church, with attached rectory, is built on what was known as Ide Farm on Pawtucket Avenue and is directly opposite the famous water tower in Kent Heights that has been a landmark in that area of East Providence for many years. The property has a frontage of 385 feet on Pawtucket Avenue and runs back 650 feet, leaving considerable land still available for future development.
Previous to the opening of the new church, services were temporarily located at St. Mary’s Academy, Bay View. Weekend masses and other liturgical and sacramental celebrations were conducted there, with funerals and weddings taking place at either Sacred Heart Church, East Providence or St. Brendan’s church, Riverside, depending on the previous parish attachment. Msgr. Bracq retired after a long and distinguished tenure as pastor. He died on May 14, 1993.
The Reverend John F. Doran succeeded Msgr. Bracq as the second pastor of St. Martha’s church in 1976. Among his many contributions was the establishment of the Portuguese Heritage Festival, which continues to this day as the Heritage Festival. He was a conscientious shepherd of souls, leaving the parish spiritually rooted and financially sound. Father Doran died while still Pastor on June 1, 1992.
Following father Doran’s untimely death, the Reverend Jude P. McGeough assumed the pastorate at St. Martha’s church. Under his leadership, the interior of the church was reconfigured, with new stained glass windows added. As part of the renovation the choir loft was removed and it was relocated next to the sanctuary and a keyboard replaced the organ. He retired on June 30, 2004, as Pastor Emeritus of the church.
The Reverend Douglas J. Spina, Ph. D., was appointed St. Martha’s Church fourth pastor on July 1, 2004. Building on his predecessors achievements at St. Martha’s, Father Spina initiated a number of projects. Among the many challenges facing the church were a new church/rectory roof and the much-needed exterior work, which involved addressing the structural issues confronting the parish. One of his achievements was the building of a bell tower on the grounds of St. Martha’s church. He continued building the spiritual and pastoral grounds on which St. Martha’s parish family is built. A prayer group named The Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy was started during his pastorate and it continues today. During his time as St. Martha’s church Rev. Spina was assisted by Deacon Frederick A. Young until he died on February 19, 2010. .
On July 1, 2011, Father David Green arrived as the fifth pastor of St. Martha’s Church. As part of his staff Father Green immediately hired Anthony Prattico as the full time bookkeeper/secretary. Shortly after his arrival he was joined by Deacon Dominic P. DiOrio. Shortly after his arrival Father resurrected a Conference of The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul which is now serving many families in the community. The Heritage Festival was changed from being a carnival-like event to a family gathering offering excellent food. Father initiated a successful campaign to obtain an organ to replace the keyboard to enhance the liturgical celebrations. As part of the spiritual life of the parish he has introduced an Adult Formation program and a Spiritual Life Committee.
The parish is presently comprised of 1500 families.