The Province of the United States recommends to our fraternal prayers our dear brother, Michael Murphy, of the Cupertino Marianist Community of Cupertino, California, USA, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on October 18, 2020, in Cupertino, at the age of 81 with 58 years of religious profession.
Brother Mike had a varied career, serving first in administrative roles in Marianist schools. He then was drawn to social justice work and ministered among the struggling and marginalized in Rockaway Park, New York; in Bangalore and Ranchi, India; and in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Michael Anthony Murphy was born on June 23, 1939, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was one of five children in the family of Joseph and Margaret (Gillen) Murphy. Young Mike attended Catholic schools in Omaha and was drawn to religious life at an early age. During high school, he applied to a religious order of priests but was declined. After graduation, he worked for a railroad for four years. Then, through a friend, he heard about the Society of Mary and began corresponding with a Marianist brother. The letters became a call to a Marianist vocation.
Mike entered the Marynook Novitiate at Galesville, Wisconsin, in 1961 and professed first vows there on August 22, 1962. He earned a bachelor’s degree in personnel management from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, in 1966, and began serving that autumn at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Brother Mike professed perpetual vows on August 20, 1967. He continued as the business manager at Nolan until 1969.
For the next five years (1969-1974), Brother Mike was the superintendent of buildings and grounds on the extensive campus of Chaminade College Preparatory in St. Louis, Missouri. He then served in administration at St. Mary’s High School, also in St. Louis, from 1974-1978.
Brother Mike spent 1978 and 1979 on sabbatical and in a renewal program. He continued work as a business manager at the Marianist Apostolic Center in Eureka, Missouri, for the next six years. From 1985 to 1988, he was associate vocation director for the former St. Louis Province.
At age 49, Brother Mike began studying for a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Dayton. While his undergraduate career was undistinguished, Brother Mike completed the master’s program with top marks – a straight “A” average. To gain internship hours he needed to become a licensed professional counselor, Brother Mike served at St. John’s Residence for Boys in Rockaway Park, New York. Formerly a ministry of the Marianist Province of New York, St. John’s Residence serves at-risk boys from troubled home settings. Brother Mike remained there for three years.
In 1993, Brother Mike was called to India, where he served in a variety of roles. For two years, he was in Bangalore in administration. Then, from 1995 to 2000, he ministered in Ranchi in roles that included teacher, assistant novice master and business manager. He returned to the States for a year’s sabbatical but was back in India in 2001 to serve for another four years in Bangalore. His experience among those living in dire poverty affected him deeply. “It was after I experienced India that I could see myself walking with the forgotten, the marginalized, the invisible people of God,” he later wrote.
Returning to the States in 2005, he lived in Cincinnati, serving in the historic and impoverished Over-the-Rhine neighborhood not far from his community at St. Francis de Sales parish. Brother Mike worked with those recently released from prison, helping them find work, housing, forgiveness and a sense of hope in the future. The Help Program he founded served hundreds of returning citizens, boosting their chances for successful re-entry into society.
Brother Mike continued to work in social justice ministry in Cincinnati until 2018, when, at age 79, he moved to the community in Cupertino.
May he rest in peace.