Holy Ghost Church on Atwells Avenue
Along the famous Atwells Avenue, the welcoming and pristine white archway set against the maroon brickwork of the Holy Ghost Parish may be seen. The main entrance is flanked on either side by matching arched doorways that give the Holy Ghost Church’s façade a sense of equilibrium. This sense of balance is reinforced by three evenly-spaced steeples housing the statues of religious icons perched upon the roof. The church’s bell tower disrupts the balance, thereby, giving the eye a more dynamic subject. A row of tall windows along the building’s long sides and a striking circular stained glass window at the center of the façade allows natural light into the church interiors.
The parish, established in 1889, mainly serves the large Italian community of Federal Hill. Federal Hill experienced an influx of Italian immigrants in the 1900s and has, thus, earned the nickname “Little Italy”.
However, since Holy Ghost Church’s establishment, the members of the parish have become more and more culturally diverse. In fact, the Holy Ghost Church celebrates mass in three different languages. English masses are held twice every Saturday and once on Sundays. One Italian mass and one Spanish mass are celebrated every Sunday. The Holy Ghost Church is home to an antique 1942 Wicks 17 ranks pipe organ, which has been recently restored to a usable state through the help of a Rodgers model 950B Digital Electronic Organ.
The Wicks/Rodgers pipe organ, with its 1,111 pipes, is certainly visually impressive, but its appearance is not as significant as its impact on the church’s environment. This combo of old and new technology produces powerful and emotionally evoking music that brings the spiritual experience of the people who go the Holy Ghost Church to a higher level. The musician who brings this giant of an instrument to life is George Mancini. Mancini is a native of Providence. For the past fifteen years, Mancini, apart from being the church organist, has been the director for the English and Italian choirs at the Holy Ghost Church. He is also the coordinator of the “Music at Holy Ghost” concert series, which has enchanted many residents and visitors of Providence. The delight in the music produced by the Wicks/Rodgers pipe organ, as evidenced by the frequency and length choir rehearsals, is even more obvious among the choir members themselves.
Aside from choir rehearsals, there are several other activities that keep the Holy Ghost parish teeming with life. Every Friday evening, the neighborhood’s youth converge and engage in various activities that strengthen spiritual and community ties. This meeting is followed by a gathering of the Circolo Giovanni XXIII. The Societa di Sant’Antonino, the Catholic Women’s League and the Holy Name Society also use the Holy Ghost Church as the regular venue for their meetings.