Fr. Joseph Murphy
Father Joseph V. Murphy, life-long priest of the Diocese of Gary, died on December 12 at the age of 76.
Born in 1940 in Chicago, he attended the University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate studies before entering the seminary, first at St. Gregory in Cincinnati, Ohio and then at St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad Ind.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Gary at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary in 1967.
First assigned as an assistant priest at Ss. Peter and Paul in Merrillville, Father Murphy initially served as an assistant at St. Hedwig, Gary; St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Michigan City; St. Paul, Valparaiso; St. Mary, Crown Point; and St. Stanislaus, East Chicago.
In 1979, he was named pastor at St. Margaret Mary, Hammond, followed by Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also in Hammond.
Assigned to begin the formation of a new parish community in Winfield Township, Father Murphy assumed associate pastor duties at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Valparaiso. In 1998, he was named pastor of the newly built Holy Spirit Parish and its budding faith community.
During his years of ministry, Father Murphy also served as an assistant moderator of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and as a religion instructor at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He received senior priest status in 2010.
Father Thomas Mischler succeeded Father Murphy as pastor of Holy Spirit in 2010. The first thing that came to mind about the parish’s founding priest was his great energy.
“He was always doing things, trying to make things better for people. He always had a project going, and was thinking ahead,” Father Mischler recalled. “He was very social justice-minded.
“When I first arrived at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1983, he had formed a group of men to help other parishioners who had lost their job, - to give them temporary employment, usually around the parish or school,” he said. “This group solicited funds to pay these men something to keep them afloat, so instead of no income they had something to tide them over.”
The Winfield pastor noted that Father Murphy was all about how to do ministry better; how he could be a better pastor, a better priest. “He inspired me to see the value in working as a team,” Father Mischler said, adding that Father Murphy lived to do things that would help him understand his faith better.”
Karen McMahon, pastoral associate at Holy Spirit, worked side-by-side with Father Murphy for many years.
“He was really beloved by the people. Father Murphy was the epitome of the ancient Chinese saying about a good leader attributed to Lao Tzu, ‘Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say: We have done this ourselves.'” McMahon quoted
“...with the accent on love,” she said. “Father Murphy loved people, he loved what he did, he loved life, he loved this church, he loved the Catholic Church, and he loved being a priest. If he had any failings, it was that he loved too much, but it's what drew the people to him. He let people be who they were, and built on that. He accepted them for who they were.”
Father Patrick Kalich, pastor of St. Mary Parish, had fond memories of the deceased priest.
“Father Murphy was one of the men in my younger years who, living out the priesthood, inspired me,” Father Kalich recalled. “I appreciate how he lived his priesthood and embraced his humanity. He had an understanding of the men and women he encountered, and, in his inimitable way, he was able to remind them of their good.
“We met in 1976, when he came to teach at Bishop Noll, and he has been a good friend for all these 40 years,” Father Kalich continued. “It was a joy to minister with him - first as a neighbor at Holy Spirit and then, in his retirement, when he was very generous with his time here at St. Mary, often in the company of his twin brother John.”