Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

MURPHY John né le 28 novembre 1904 à Ballyferriter
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 15 septembre 1928
prêtre le 9 juin 1929
décédé le 20 août 1964

1929-1936 missionnaire au Nigeria, Asaba-Benin
1936-1959 Dromantine, grand séminaire, économe
1959-1962 Blackrock Road, Cork, membre du staff
1962-1964 Felixtowe, Angleterre, aumônier

décédé à Felixtowe, Grande-Bretagne, le 20 août 1964,
à l'âge de 60 ans

Father John Patrick MURPHY (1904 - 1964)

John Pat Murphy was born in Ballyferriter, Co Kerry (his family address was Laherfree, Ventry, Dingle), in the diocese of Kerry, on 28 November 1904. He died, after a brief illness, at Felixtowe, Suffolk, England, on 20 August 1964.

John studied with the Christian Brothers in Dingle, and at St. Brendan's diocesan college, Killarney (1918 1923) before entering St. Peter's seminary, Wexford. He completed his philosophical training there and also two years of his theological formation for priesthood (1925 1927). He then decided to become a missionary. Having completed much of his ecclesiastical training he was able to enter the S.M.A.'s theological seminary, which had recently been transferred from Cork to Dromantine, Co Down. John was admitted to membership of the Society in Dromantine, on 15 September 1928, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 9 June 1929. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination John was assigned to the vicariate of Western Nigeria, a territory which today comprises the archdiocese of Benin City and the dioceses of Warri, Issele Uku and Lokoja. On his arrival, in October 1929, he was posted to Agenebode. This station, founded in 1897, had perhaps 600 Catholics and a large hinterland with almost fifty outstations. John's superior was Tom Greene who had been ordained in 1927. After eighteen months in Agenebode, during which he studied the local languages and received faculties to hear confessions, John was posted to Afashio, formerly an outstation of Agenebode. John went to Ireland on his first home leave in September 1933. On his return to Nigeria he was posted to St. Paul's inter vicarial seminary located at Asaba, headquarters of the vicariate. This institution provided training in philosophy, theology and classics for seminarians from all the jurisdictions in south west, mid west and northern Nigeria. After six months John was posted to Ubiaja, as assistant to John Mahon. Ubiaja station had been founded in 1908 under the patronage of St. Benedict of Philadelphia. It had a catholic community of 600 members and 20 catechumens and some twenty outstations.

In March 1936 John contracted cerebral malaria which at that time was deemed fatal. Fortunately he recovered sufficiently to return to Ireland, however he was very shaken by the experience which had distressing mental as well as physical symptoms. His doctors ruled that he should not return to the tropics. After a period of convalescence, during which he was attached to the staff of the Provincial house in Cork, he was assigned to Dromantine where he was bursar from July 1936 until 1959. It was John who was responsible for the building up of a candle factory in Dromantine to supply S.M.A. needs and those of the surrounding dioceses, a most successful enterprise. A generation of students saw in him an ideal priest.

In 1959 John fell ill, with a duodenal ulcer and also, and more seriously, with a recurrence of some of the distressing symptoms which had affected him in 1936. In April 1963, in better health, he took up a chaplaincy to the convent of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, in Orwell Road, Felixtowe, England. It was here, after short illness, that he died. A letter to the Provincial, John A. Creaven, written by the Mother Superior of the congregation, nine days after John's death made the following observations on John's last hours: 'I spent Sunday with the Felixstowe Community. They were sad but at the same time happy that Father Murphy had died in the convent and not in the hospital where I was anxious for him to go so as to get expert treatment. Our Lord knew what was best and I feel sure Father spent those last hours preparing to die. The open book near him Meditations for a Dying Priest revealed his thoughts, and he was surely ready'.

His obituary in the African Missionary records the following tribute: 'I worked on the same staff with him in Dromantine and rarely have I met anybody with such a sense of duty as Father Murphy had. Long before my time, he had tramped from village to village in the Afenmai country I was later to work in. I often came upon memories of him in these villages, when the old people got talking. They would tell me how he would examine so carefully the ways they had for doing things making nets for fishing, hoes for farming, and in villages forty or fifty miles from the mission house, how he watched the old women shape the clay in the native potteries. That child like quality of wonder never left him. His face would light up at the prospect of discovering something new some latest mechanical ingenuity. He never forgot the people of these little villages. When I came back a few years ago, he asked how old Thomas was in Agenebode, how Peter had fared in Okpekpe. They were a missionary's memories, still very much alive'.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.