Jesuit Father Thomas P. Murphy, SJ, was called to eternal life on June 28, 2017. Fr. Murphy died at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx, New York.
Fr. Murphy was born in Brooklyn on August 19, 1926, educated at Regis High School, and entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in 1944. As a Jesuit, he took his vows in 1946 and, after three years in the Philippines and theology at Woodstock, was ordained at Fordham on June 22,1957. He pronounced his final vows on Aug. 15, 1960.
He served again in the Philippines from 1960 to 1971 at three different schools and universities as a dean of discipline or principal. He was also instrumental in starting new schools. Returning to New York in 1971, he reported to his beloved Regis — where in 1944 he had been class president for four years, sodalist, a member of the Owl staff for three years, high jumper on the track team and debater in junior year — and now was director of admissions and dean. From 1972 to 1976, he served as president.
His career’s crowning achievement, however, took place during his 1976-2009 service at St. Margaret of Corona Parish in the Bronx. His high school sports record and leadership experience enabled him to organize and manage a huge parish intramural sports program that included both young men and women. With an annual event called the Beefsteak dinner, drawing 500 in attendance, he raised funds that enabled every young person to participate fully in the athletic programs.
With individual attention to every young person, Fr. Murphy developed their maturity, confidence and skill. As one parent described him, he had a very strong presence. When he entered the room, everyone knew it and gravitated toward him to shake his hand. With his friendly manner, he could meet informally with parishioners to plan the parish’s programs and their future. The students became his lifelong friends.
He liked to listen to Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. A big biography of Frank Sinatra stood out on his desk while the shelf also held biographies of Jimmy Carter, the Kennedys and George Washington, histories of Ireland and Brooklyn and Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken.”