In retirement, Father Lawrence V. Murphy kept busy and maintained his wit.
He walked Rochester’s northwest neighborhoods with Police and Citizens Together Against Crime (PAC TAC), planted flowers in a community garden and was a regular visitor to the bedsides of the dying at Isaiah House in Rochester.
“I’ve got it made,” Father Murphy quipped to the Catholic Courier just this spring for an article about his 50th anniversary of ordination. “Everything I’m doing is just as it had been, except for one beautiful thing that’s lacking — and that’s meetings.”
The 77-year-old priest, who retired in 2001, died Oct. 22, 2008, at Rochester General Hospital.
Father Murphy was born in Walworth and raised in St. Michael Parish in Newark. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained May 31, 1958, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father Murphy served as assistant pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Greece from 1958-62 and assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral from 1962-65 before taking various positions as a spiritual director, diocesan vocations director and teacher. In 1971, he became an assistant pastor at St. Mary Church in Rochester and served as chaplain at the former Genesee Hospital from the early 1970s to 1985. He also was a chaplain at Highland Hospital; pastor of Fairport’s Church of the Resurrection from 1985-93; and pastor of Rochester’s Holy Rosary (1993-2001) and Most Precious Blood (2000-01) parishes. After his 2001 retirement he continued to assist the Cathedral Community, which at the time comprised Sacred Heart Cathedral, Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood.
This year — exactly 50 years to the day after his ordination — Father Murphy celebrated his golden jubilee with a Mass at the cathedral. During the liturgy, Father Murphy encouraged cathedral parishioners to be patient with the development of the community, which had just experienced the closings of Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood churches. Some who were upset about the consolidation attended the Mass due to their great respect for Father Murphy, said Rose Davis, the community’s pastoral associate.
In one example of his collaborative spirit, Father Murphy planned the jubilee liturgy to involve many of his brother priests, friends and former parishioners, Davis said.
“He was a wonderful person with a great love and respect for everyone,” she said. “He didn’t call attention to himself.”
A standout athlete in baseball, basketball, football and softball during grade school, Father Murphy was an avid fan of the New York Yankees, Rochester Red Wings and the University of Notre Dame’s football team.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark, who attended St. Bernard’s Seminary during Father Murphy’s final year there, recalled the priest’s contributions as an athlete during seminary and his encouragement of younger students. When Bishop Clark returned to Rochester as bishop more than two decades later, Father Murphy hadn’t changed a bit, he said.
“It was like picking up with an old friend,” Bishop Clark said. “I enjoyed the same kindness and encouragement from him, and I have admired his ministry through the years.”
Calling hours for Father Murphy are from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, at Bartolomeo and Perotto Funeral Home, 1411 Vintage Lane, Greece. He will lie in state at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park. Bishop James Moynihan of the Diocese of Syracuse will preside at evening prayer beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Father Murphy also will lie in state at the cathedral from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 27, prior to his 11 a.m. funeral Mass, which will be celebrated by Bishop Clark.
Memorials may be made to Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester, NY 14615, or to Isaiah House, 71 Prince St., Rochester, NY 14607.