Assoc. Prof. Emeritus Francis J. Murphy remembered
Alum: 'He was the epitome of a man for others'
Assoc. Prof. Emeritus Rev. Francis J. Murphy, a priest of the Boston Archdiocese who served as both a faculty member in the Boston College History Department and as friend and mentor to a generation of students, died Monday Aug. 28 in Wellesley Hills. He was 71.
A funeral Mass was celebrated in Mt. St. Vincent Chapel in Wellesley on Thursday Aug. 31.
"We lost a stellar teacher, mentor, friend and scholar with the passing of Fr. Frank Murphy, who dedicated the last 34 years of his professional life to the students of Boston College," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Quinn.
"He was the epitome of a man for others," said Daniel Flynn '85, who met Fr. Murphy during his first year at Boston College and remained friends with the priest ever since. "He was a great man."
Born in Boston in 1935 Fr. Murphy was a 1957 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and St. John's Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in February of 1962.
Fr. Murphy was assigned to the parishes of the Star of the Sea, East Boston, St. Margaret Mary's, Westwood, Blessed Sacrament, Cambridge, and Sacred Heart, Newton. He was also chaplain to the Nazareth Home, in Jamaica Plain. For the past 20 years he was Chaplain of the Sisters of Charity, Mt. St. Vincent Community, in Wellesley Hills.
In 1971 he earned a doctoral degree in European history from Catholic University and later joined the BC faculty.
"He taught a single history course in the summer school and was so impressive to students and fellow faculty members that he stayed on and became an irreplaceable member of the History Department," said University Historian Thomas H. O'Connor, who recalled Fr. Murphy as a soft-spoken gentleman who made himself available to anyone who sought his counsel.
"During office hours the corridors of Carney Hall would be lined with students sitting on the floor, reading their books and waiting patiently to have their personal time with Fr. Murphy," said O'Connor. "He came to know each one of them individually...and years later would often celebrate their marriages and baptize their children."
Following his retirement from BC last year, Fr. Murphy's contributions to Boston College were recognized with a rare distinction.
"In June, 2006, he was named 'Associate Professor Emeritus' by University President William Leahy, an honor that I know meant a great deal to him," said Quinn, explaining that emeritus status is usually reserved for retired faculty who have achieved the rank of full professor.
"A very justifiable exception was made in this case," said Quinn.
Prof. Marilyn Johnson, chairperson of the History Department said that Fr. Murphy was set apart by his treatment of both his colleagues and students.
"He was much beloved in this department as he was a wonderful, thoughtful and caring colleague. He always took the time to give an encouraging word and recognized people for the work they did," said Johnson, who met Fr. Murphy when she joined the department 11 years ago. "His encouragement meant a lot to me."
Said Flynn, "I transferred in to BC and he sat down with me, gave me the course catalog and recommended the classes that I should take. I think he chose some of the most difficult and most interesting courses I ever had."
"Fr. Murphy was there for me in good times and the difficult times and he never expected anything in return," he recalled.
James Ferrera '85 recalled Fr. Murphy as a family friend, capable racquetball player and confidant with whom he shared Italian meals in Newton Centre.
"He took a personal interest in his students and never asked for anything in return," he said.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Sisters of Charity, Mt. St. Vincent Community, 125 Oakland St. Wellesley Hills, MA 02481 or to the New England Food Foundation, PO Box 960788, Boston, MA. 02196.
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