Fr Daniel Murphy SMA – obituary

Fr Daniel V Murphy died peacefully at 3.15am on Sunday, 19 October 2014, at the St Theresa’s Nursing unit at the African Missions, Blackrock Road, Cork.

Dan was born on 16 April 1932, the fifth of eight children born to Patrick and Mary [née Barrett]. He had 4 sisters and three brothers. Siobhán, Denis, Pat and Betty predeceased him. Dan was baptised in St Michael’s Church, Blackrock on 19 April 1932 and was confirmed in June 1944. Dan’s father had a Coal Store [selling coal, hay etc] in Barrack Street.

After completing his primary education at Sullivans Quay he travelled north to Co Mayo, to the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, which was the SMA Juniorate where he completed his secondary education [1946-1951]. It was no surprise in the Murphy household when the young Dan decided to be a missionary priest as he had regularly served Mass at the African Missions, Blackrock Road as a young boy and was impressed by the many missionaries, particularly those home on holidays from west Africa where the Irish Province had missions in Liberia and Nigeria as well as in Egypt. After the Leaving Cert in 1951 he entered the formal training programme of the SMA and did his Novitiate and Philosophy at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, becoming a member of the Society on 2 July 1953. He did his Philosophy and Theology studies at the African Missions Major seminary, Dromantine in Co Down.

Dan was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Colman, Newry on 18 December 1956, one of 15 ordained that day, by Bishop Mulhern of Dromore diocese. Normally this class would have been ordained in 1957 but, as it was the Centenary of the foundation of the SMA by Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac, by special permission [Indult] from the Holy See the Ordination date was brought forward by six months. He was appointed to the Archdiocese of Lagos, Nigeria where American-born Leo Hale Taylor SMA was the first Archbishop [1950 – 1965]. Fr Dan was to serve for 40 years in different parishes of the Archdiocese [and Ibadan Archdiocese] until his final retirement from Nigeria in 2004.

During his thirty-eight years in Lagos he helped establish and build up many parishes, including Topo Island, St Anthony’s [Surulere], Regina Mundi [Mushin], Our Lady of Fatima [Aguda], St Sabina’s [Idi-Mangoro] and the Church of the Assumption [Falomo].

Fr Dan was also asked to take on several Society roles – Dean of Students [Wilton, Cork – 1961-1963], during which he also studied at UCC; Promotion Office, Blackrock Road, Cork [1986-1987] and Superior of the SMA House, Dublin [1987-1988]. He returned to Lagos in 1988 and after a further five years there he took up an appointment as Curate in Passage West parish, diocese of Cork & Ross. In 1994 he returned again to Lagos and, after two years in parish work, he took up a Society appointment as Guestmaster at the SMA House, Obanikoro, Lagos [1996-2001] followed by two years at the SMA House / Parish in Challenge, Ibadan [2002-2004]. He returned finally to Ireland, to Blackrock Road, in 2004.

Fr Dan was meticulous in everything he did, naturally cautious in everything he said and did. According to the mind of his Superiors, this made him an excellent choice for administrative positions and as well as the Society appointments he also served as Archdiocesan Secretary [twice] and was also Vicar General [1982-1986] and Chancellor [1988-1993] to then Archbishop [now Cardinal] Anthony Olubunmi Okogie.

During his retirement in Blackrock Road, Fr Dan took his turn at celebrating Eucharist and other pastoral services in some of the local Nursing Homes and Convents. A gifted singer he was always sure to give a rendition of The Holy City or Panis Angelicus at the weekly ‘Sing-Song’ in St Theresa’s. In the last couple of years Fr. Dan’s health and mental faculties began to decline.

Fr Dan is deeply regretted by his sisters Kathleen and Mary and his brother Edmund [Eddie] as well as a large number of nieces and nephews, other relatives, friends and confreres in the Society of African Missions.

Totally committed to the work of mission it was appropriate that Fr Dan slipped away to his eternal home on Mission Sunday 2014, which had as its theme That you may have Life. May Fr Dan now enjoy that life in all its fullness.

Read homily of Fr Michael McCabe at the Funeral Mass on 22 October 2014.