Holy Martyrs Church History
266 Foreside Road
Falmouth, ME 04105
Father Joseph Quinn, Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Yarmouth, saw the need of establishing a mission church in Falmouth Foreside, and in March of 1922 bought the present property. Around 1930, a small wooden church was built on the southern side of the property. Until this time the Falmouth Catholics either went to Mass in Yarmouth or Portland.
Father Quinn had originally planned this to be a temporary structure, with the hope of building a stone church in the center of the site. For many years the huge pile of stone lay idle while Mass was celebrated every Sunday and Holy Day in the little church. At the time the first church was built there were only eleven families who attended Mass during the winter months. To the pioneer families – Mr. and Mrs. Dan Casey, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Daniels, Mrs. Ralph Doughty, Mr. and Mrs. John Morris, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Asa Marden, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Morton, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Owen, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Quinn,and Mr. and Mrs. James Tormay.
The church was originally constructed for summer use only but it was kept open year round. This small group of people huddled around the alter during the winter to hear Mass. A temporary partition of sheet rock was put at the altar rail and a stove set up to heat the small area. Joe Daniels and John Morris lit the fire on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning. Helen Quinn was our first organist: in those days it was an old pump organ. She continued to play the organ faithfully for many years on our new church’s Allen organ.
In September of 1934, a partial cellar was dug and a furnace installed to heat the building for the winter. These were hard years for Holy Martyrs: people had little money, the congregation was small, especially in winter.
Part Two: The Road Towards a Parish
On October 5, 1941, the Holy Martyrs Church was dedicated by Bishop Joseph E. McCarthy. Father R. N. Maxwell, SJ, President of Holy Cross College, gave the dedication sermon. This was the first church in the United States to be dedicated to the Jesuit Martyrs of North America. The relics of three of the Martyrs was brought from Quebec and given to Mary Morris as a special gift to the new church. The relics are still in our new church today at the altar.
In 1962, through the kindness of Mrs. Byron D. Miller, a sizable piece of land at the corner of Johnson and Falmouth Roads was donated to the parish. It is presently used as the parish parking lot and part of the driveway.
On August 1, 1968, Holy Martyrs was canonically erected as a full-pledged parish. Father Edward O’Brien was appointed the first permanent pastor. A residence was purchased on Stony Ridge Road, Cumberland Foreside. In the fall, the first Parish Council was elected.
Part Three: Renovations
In June of 1969, Monsignor Begin appointed a Building Committee. Definite building plans were drawn up. All during the winter months the building committee worked out the details. The last Mass was celebrated in the little white church on May 3, 1970.
On the following Tuesday, May 5, 1970, the little white church was demolished and work started on our present day complex: church, hall, and rectory. In the interim, Sunday Mass was celebrated at the Falmouth Junior High School and occasionally at the Falmouth Foreside Community Church with the first Mass at the new Holy Martyrs Church on October 10, 1970. There was only a cement floor and folding chairs.
On June 22, 1984, Bishop Edward C. O’Leary blessed the memorial windows of the Holy Martyrs of North America. The number of families continued to increase, as did the local population. The parish purchased a portion of the property next to the church on Johnson road for expansion of the parking lot due to the growing number of cars at the Masses and the addition of a quiet room/meeting space. Since the early 1990′s, we have been broadcasting all of our Masses to the Greater Portland area on Time Warner Cable.
Today Holy Martyrs Church is an active church in the midst of Falmouth's thriving shopping district, working in partnership with Sacred Heart, St. Gregory and St. Jude as the Parish of the Holy Eucharist to proclaim and celebrate our faith.
1910 – 1937 Fr. Joseph Quinn
1937 – 1954 Fr. Edward Walsh
1954 – 1967 Fr. James Daly
1967 – 1968 Fr. Edward O’Brien
1968 – 1969 Fr. Marc Frank
1969 – 1979 Msgr. Raymond Begin
1979 – 1996 Msgr. Vincent Tatarczuk
1996 – 2006 Msgr. Charles Murphy
2007 – 2012 Fr. Joseph Ford
2012- Fr. Daniel Greenleaf