Murphy, Dermot J, 1916-1979, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Murphy, Dermot J, 1916-1979, Jesuit priest and missioner

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26 May 1916-08 December 1979

History

Born: 26 May 1916, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1935, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1948
Professed: 02 February 1951
Died: 08 December 1979, St Mary’s, Surrenden Road, Brighton, Sussex, England - Zambiae Province (ZAM)

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

Brother of John - RIP 1986

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners
by 1968 at St Paul’s. Mulungushi, Brokenhill, Zambia (POL Mi) teaching
by 1969 at Lusaka (PO Mi) working
by 1975 at Worthing Sussex (ANG) working
by 1976 at Brighton Sussex (ANG) working

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Just at the end of his tertianship, Fr Dermot was selected to go to the then Northern Rhodesia and was one of the nine Irish Jesuits who went there in 1950. The Irish Province had been asked by Fr General to send men to aid their Polish colleagues there. When they arrived, Fr Dermot was based mainly at Fumbo and Chikuni during his first five years. Many were the stories told about his apostolic adventures in the Gwembe valley and along the line of rail during these years. His resourcefulness in coming up with needed articles was also a byword. He seemed to have a ready supply of things required by his brethren. One Father setting out on a visit to a distant outpost in very hot conditions, wished to take some butter and other perishables. Fr Dermot said to him, ‘I think I have a refrigerator bag'. He produced the bag when most of his brethren did not know that such things were obtainable.

The second half of 1956 saw Fr Dermot in Lusaka as Parish Priest of St Ignatius. He immediately launched the building of a long-planned church which involved a great deal of finding both money and material. In doing this, with remarkable success, Fr Dermot acquired a host of friends, acquaintances and some would add with affectionate facetiousness – victims. On one occasion when a motor dealer offered a donation of £10, Dermot intimated that a larger donation would better match the esteem in which the listener was held. After an exchange of pleasantries, the business man said: ‘Just to listen to you, Father, is well worth £25; here is my cheque’.

The new church was blessed in December 1957 and, over the next few years, Dermot added to it with loving care. He also made improvements to the already existing parish hall and, in particular, promoted youth entertainment.

Returning from leave in 1964, he was assigned to Roma township where the cathedral was to be built. While there, he presided over the building of it as well as the Regiment church at Chilenje.

In 1972 Dermot's health began to fail and increasing heart trouble made it advisable for him to live at a lower altitude. While he had been a scholastic at Clongowes doing his regency, diphtheria had broken out. All the community were tested and found to be immune. Dermot, however, went down afterwards with a bad bout of diphtheria. This can affect the heart and it was his heart that went against him at this time. Accordingly he left Zambia in February 1973 and took up parish work at sea level in Brighton, England, where he laboured with his customary zeal and success until his regretted death on 8 of December 1979. His brother John, also a Jesuit, was with him when he died. When John arrived, Dermot was in a coma. John wrote, ‘He (Dermot) did not give any sign of recognition but I had the uncanny feeling that he knew I was there’.

A strict contemporary writing about Dermot, said, ‘Dermot was, and remained so all his life, the kind of person one was glad to meet. It was always good to have him in the company. He had a sense of humour and an original dry verbal wit. After one of his verbal shafts, he would cackle happily. I think he was incapable of an uncharitable remark and he never showed disappointment or bitterness. He was a good community man’. Before he left Zambia, Dermot could become depressed, maybe the result of his health. However when in the parish in Brighton he was most apostolic as witnessed by the parishioners there.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 55th Year No 1 1980

Obituary :

Fr Dermot Murphy (1916-1935-1979)

Dermot Murphy and myself walked up the Emo steps for the first time on the 7th September 1935. In that year we were the only two candidates who had been at school in Belvedere. On that heart freezing day it was a help to see somebody one knew, and Dermot, as usual, was cheerful, which I was not.
Although we came across one another little enough in Belvedere, Dermot was always friendly and cheerful. He was - and remained so all his life - the kind of person one was glad to meet. We were always glad to have Dermot with us walking on the hills from Rathfarnham or in the boats from Tullabeg. There was something gentle and peaceful about him. He had a sense of humour and an original dry verbal wit. After one of his verbal shafts he would cackle happily. I think he was incapable of an uncharitable remark and he never showed disappointment or bitterness. He was a community man; a good guy.
In Clongowes, where we were scholastics together, the community used all be given a test for vulnerability to diphtheria. All were found to be immune. Dermot, however, went down shortly afterwards with a bad bout of diphtheria, and the test, as a result, was abandoned by the medical profession. Diphtheria can affect the heart, and it was his heart that went against Dermot in the last years.
I think I remember him on one of the younger teams in Belvedere but it was golf not rugby that was his game. We always said he was born on a golf course! Playing on the seaside course near his home from an early age, he became one of those players who are marvellously natural and easy.
One day, in half a gale and rain, we were playing Portmarnock, There is one hole in the second nine which used to be almost unplayable in bad weather. From a low tee you looked up at a high sandhill which blotted out the sky. Later they took away part of the sandhill because it was too difficult for the Canada Cup players. Dermot asked “What’s the line?” We pointed to the white stone which was hardly visible. “How far?” We told him. His drive went straight and effortlessly into the wind, rising over the stone, and we found the ball in the middle of the fairway.
That was like the man: in spite of difficulties, assured, straight, undeviating, reaching the desired place which could not even be seen. That is how he was with people. That, I believe, is how he went to God. May the Lord be exceptionally good to him.
J C Kelly SJ

Irish Province News 55th Year No 2 1980

Obituary

Fr Dermot Murphy († 8th December 1979)

A contribution from Zambia

Fr Dermot Murphy joins Frs Brian McMahon and Walter O’Connor, to bring to three the number of the 1950 arrivals on the Mission who have departed this world, Lord rest them. .
Fr Murphy learned chiTonga soon after his arrival in Zambia, and was based mainly at Fumbo and at Chikuni during his first five years in Africa. Many were the stories told about his apostolic adventures in the Gwembe valley and along the line of rail during those years. His resource fulness in coming up with needed articles was also a byword. He seemed to have had a ready reserve supply of things required by his brethren - tools of every kind, apparel for various occasions. The writer, setting out on a visit to a distant outpost in very hot conditions, wished to take some butter and other perishables. Fr Dermot, on hearing of the problem, considered a moment, and said in his unhurried way, “I think I have a refrigerator bag”. And sure enough he had, at a time when most of us did not know that such things were obtainable!
In the second half of 1956 he was posted to Lusaka as parish priest of St Ignatius. He immediately launched the building of the long-planned church. His predecessor, Fr Paddy O’Brien, had left the parish with enough resources to get the work started: but to keep it going a great deal more money and material was needed. These Fr Murphy sought tirelessly, perseveringly and with remarkable success, and in doing so he acquired a host of friends, acquaintances, and - some would add with affectionate facetiousness – victims! On one occasion he is said to have approached a Lusaka motor dealer. The gentleman in question offered a donation of £10, Dermot intimated that only a larger donation would match the esteem in which his listener was held. After an exchange of pleasantries the businessman said, “Just to listen to you, Father, is well worth £25. Here is my cheque”.
To general rejoicing the church was blessed and opened in December 1957. Over the next few years the parish priest added to it with loving care a distinctive side-altar, the sanctuary stained-glass (donated by his aunt, Mrs Scanlon of Killaloe), electronic equipment, etc. He also made improvements to the already existing parish hall, and in particular pro moted youth entertainment.
Fr Dermot continued as PP until 1964, when he went on well deserved overseas leave. On his return he was assigned to Roma township, where the cathedral was to be built. While there, he presided over the building of the cathedral, the church of St Charles Lwanga at Chilenje, and the 'Doxiadis' church at the new Kafue industrial centre.
In 1972 his health began to fail, and increasing heart trouble made it advisable for him to live at a lower altitude. Accordingly, he left Zambia in February 1973, and took up parish work at sea-level in Brighton, England, where he laboured with his customary zeal and success until his regretted death.
At the memorial Mass in St Ignatius church, Lusaka (17th December), the main celebrant was Fr Provincial, and about thirty of Dermot's Jesuit brethren concelebrated. Fr Paddy O’Brien in his homily reminded us that while St Ignatius church stood, Fr Dermot Murphy would always have a fitting memorial. Speaking in lighter vein of his priestly commitment, devotion and unction, he recalled the lament of a lady parishioner shortly after his departure from Lusaka: “Who will baptize our children, now that Fr Murphy has gone? The mothers who were accustomed to him do not think that the other priests baptize properly in comparison with him!” Among those at the Mass were several survivors of Lusaka twenty years ago who welcomed the opportunity to pay their last respects to an esteemed and well-beloved Pastor and friend. Among them with his wife was Mr Conor McIntyre the contractor, who gave his services freely for the building of the church in 1956-'57, and who is now Irish Honorary Consul to Zambia.
We in Zambia are grateful to Clongowes for providing Fr Dermot with a Community in Ireland and for welcoming his remains. May he rest in peace!

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Murphy, Dermot J, 1916-1979, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969- (1969-)

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Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969-

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Murphy, Dermot J, 1916-1979, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969 (1946-1969)

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IE IJA MSSN/ZAM

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969

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Murphy, Dermot J, 1916-1979, Jesuit priest and missioner

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IE IJA J/262

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IE IJA

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