Father Geoffrey Murphy, SJ

Born: 30 September 1922, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
Entered: 07 September 1940, St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois, Ireland
Ordained: 29 July 1954, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 22 April 1977
Died: 12 October 1985, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Father Murphy worked in Hong Kong as a scholastic from 1949 to 1951 and as a priest from 1956 to 1958. He spent two years studying Cantonese, and then taught for a year (1950-51) in the Wah Yan afternoon school, being very successful and well-liked. As a priest, he also taught.

In 1958 Fr. Geoffrey Murphy was posted to Kuala Lumpur and remained in Malaysia the rest of his life. With the help of Father McGovern and Father Bourke, he built the Church of St Francis Xavier and the student hostel, Xavier Hall in Petaling Jaya.

Father Murphy was the first parish priest of St Francis Xavier from 1961 to 1965. In 1963 he had about 1800 parishioners and he knew practically all of them. He was known for his good humour, immense patience and his ability to listen endlessly to anyone in trouble.

Many parishioners remember how he would occasionally encourage the flow of conversation with his trademark. “Sure, sure. Sure, sure!”

His notable clam seemed only to be ruffled when he came across cases of injustice, illness, and where the weak and defenceless were involved: his heart was then always engaged.

In 1965 he was transferred to Penang, where he was stationed until 1980, first at the cathedral, then, from 1972, in the centre for university students which he founded at Minden Heights.

For a long time the Jesuits had very few locally born members in Malaysia and Singapore. However, when visa restrictions had reduced the expatriate Jesuits to a very small handful the number of local applications began to rise.

In 1980, Father Murphy returned to Petaling Jaya as minister and bursar, as well as promoter of vocations in Malaysia and Singapore. His responsibilities for formation and the promotion of vocations paved the way for his appointment in 1982 as master of novices for the Jesuit region of Malaysia and Singapore in the novitiate in Petaling Jaya. A steady stream of candidates passed through Father Murphy’s hands.

Father Murphy was suspected of having cancer. He went to Ireland for further diagnosis, but he died there within a month. He was peaceful and calm, worried at first about what might happen to his novices in Petaling Jaya, and very edifying to those who visited him. He died of liver cancer in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, on 13 October 1985, aged 63.


Back to past Jesuits list