Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

MURPHY 2 Patrick Joseph né le 8 septembre 1929 à Breenybeg
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1950
prêtre le 15 juin 1954
décédé le 8 juillet 1997

1954-1972 diocèse de Ondo, Nigeria
1972-1979 diocèse d’Ekiti, Nigeria
1980-1997 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation
missionnaire et vocationnelle

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 8 juillet 1997
à l’âge de 67 ans


Father Patrick Joseph MURPHY (1929 - 1997)

Patrick Joseph Murphy was born in Breenybeg, Kealkill, Bantry, Co Cork, in the diocese of Cork and Ross, on 8 September 1929. He died in the S.M.A. house at Blackrock Road, Cork, on 8 July 1997.

The eldest of his family of two boys and one sister???, Patrick ('Weeshie' or 'P.J.') was born to Patrick and Ellen (née Murnane) Murphy, a native of Letterlickey. He completed his primary education at Kealkill N.S., and then commenced his secondary education with the De la Salle brothers in Skibbereen ('the High School'). In 1943, with a view to becoming a missionary priest, he transferred to the Society's senior-cycle secondary school at Wilton, Cork where in 1948 he matriculated and acquired his leaving certificate. P.J. entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1948. He received his theological formation in the Society's major seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1950-1954. P.J. was received as a member of the Society on 29 June 1950. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 15 June 1954. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

After ordination P.J. was appointed to Ondo diocese, in south-west Nigeria. a territory which had been erected in 1950 under the leadership of Bishop Thomas Hughes. This jurisdiction had formerly formed part of the vicariate of the vast Bight of Benin confided to the Irish Province in 1930. His first appointment, given to him by Bishop William Field, was to Ushi-Ekiti parish. Ushi mission had been founded in 1926 under the patronage of St. Joseph. This was one of the strongest mission districts in the diocese, with a Catholic community consisting of some 5,000 members and catechumens, located in the central station and almost 60 outstations. Here, under the guidance of the superior, Martin Kenny, he was introduced to the missionary life, learned the Yoruba language, studied local customs and undertook supervised pastoral work. After six months Pat received faculties to hear confessions and early in 1956 he was transferred to St. Andrew's parish, Oro. This mission, situated in Ilorin province, founded in 1926, had a Catholic community of some 3,000 members, with 200 catechumens and five schools.

However the Church was still in its infancy as can be seen by the virtual absence of Catholic marriages at that time. P.J.'s parish priest in Oro was Thomas O'Shaughnessy. A year later P.J. returned to Ushi-Ekiti, the mission with which he is most closely associated during the twenty-five years he spent in Nigeria. P.J. came to Ireland on his first home leave in the summer of 1958. Returning to Nigeria in February 1959, he was appointed parish priest of Oye-Ekiti where, singlehanded, he looked after a large Catholic community. In March 1962 P.J. went to Ireland on his next leave, returning to Nigeria in October of the same year. He was to spent all of his next tour of duty at Ushi-Ekiti, where Dan McCauley was parish priest. When Fr. McCauley went on leave in February 1963 P.J. took charge. P.J. spent his next tour of duty (1966-1969) in Effon and Ilawe. Between 1970-1972 he ministered, once more, in Ushi-Ekiti.

In 1972 the Ekiti region of the diocese was erected as a separate jurisdiction, under a Nigerian, Michael P. Olatunji Fagun. P.J. became a member of Bishop Fagun's staff. There were eight parishes in the new diocese and P.J. was appointed parish priest of Ushi-Ekiti. He continued to serve in Ekiti until 1976 when he spent a sabbatical year at St. Patrick's college, Maynooth. P.J.'s health was never robust and as he approached the silver jubilee of ordination his doctors stipulated that future tours of duty should last no more than one year. However his health continued to deteriorate and in 1980 his superiors decided to give him a home appointment. He was to spend the remaining seventeen years of his life as a member of the promotion team, working in the mite-box apostolate. He was never to enjoy a retirement. His unexpected death came as a great shock to his colleagues and family.

He said Mass and had breakfast on Tuesday morning, 8 July 1997. He told those in the dining room that he was off on promotion work and would be back on Friday. Some enquiries were made about him during the day but in each case someone was able to say he left after breakfast and would return on Friday. It was early next morning when one priest, noticing his car in front of the house, went to investigate. He was dead as a result of a heart attack. Although his death was a great shock, it was not altogether a surprise, as he had suffering increasingly from bronchial and chest problems. His love of cigarette smoking, despite all efforts by concerned friends and family to dissuade him otherwise, never dimmed and doubtless contributed to his health problems.

P.J. had a gentle, unassuming personality, a glorious sense of humour, a generous spirit and a deep faith. He was deeply interested in people and everywhere easily made friendships. Although he had definite views on a lot of subjects, he never allowed this to intrude on his capacity for friendship and so made friends in all quarters. He had a special interest in G.A.A. sport and the fortunes of his home county. P.J.'s love of his family and theirs for him was particularly noticeable. During his years in Nigeria he endeared himself to his parishioners by involving himself deeply in their lives.

During the seventeen years he traversed the highways and byways of Leinster, Munster and north-west Ulster, he became a much-loved figure in shops, post offices, supermarkets, corner stores and guest houses, all of which became his extended parish. It was work for which his uniquely gifted, yet modest, temperament was ideally suited and he inspired rich seams of affection wherever he went. As he moved unobtrusively around the streets of towns and villages he was never a remote, impersonal figure, but rather a roving parish priest who cared about the people and their families, listed to their stories, took their problems on board and prayed for them in times of difficulty; as an added bonus he regaled them with a rich array of jokes and stories which had as much to do with his endlessly fertile imagination as they had to do with reality.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.