Tony Murphy, longstanding General Manager of the Diocese of Palmerston North, has retired after 18 years in the role.
At a farewell function in July, Tony was recognised for the outstanding professional and personal qualities he brought to the role, and the pastoral approach that was his hallmark.
Monsignor Brian Walsh, long-time Administrator of the Cathedral Parish, said that Tony’s foremost quality has been his availability and his care and support for people across the diocese.
‘If people were struggling in their roles, be it priests, principals or anyone in the diocese, Tony would often personally reach out to them and offer his support, take them out for a meal or a drink – things that were outside of his job description.’
Monsignor Walsh said Tony had gained the respect and admiration of countless people, both within the diocese of Palmerston North and the wider church of New Zealand as well as the wider community. He said Tony had been a source of strength for the diocese over the last few years ‘which had been a particularly difficult time for the diocese’.
‘… You, Tony, have led us through thick and thin with enormous cost to yourself both in time and energy, particularly leading up to and after Bishop Charles’ resignation. For this we will always be grateful.’
Over the years Tony’s role expanded. He became involved in several national committees, including the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) Finance Committee. Cardinal John Dew, Vice-President of the NZCBC, said that Tony has always been talked about with the highest respect.
‘Tony was often asked to step up if they had a particular project to do, and every time he said yes so generously and so willingly,’ said Cardinal John.
Tony was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year and made the decision to step down from his general management role in the diocese.
Bishop Peter Cullinane, who was Bishop of Palmerston North when Tony was employed, paid tribute to the way Tony has walked his journey since receiving his diagnosis.
‘The way you’ve continued to meet the needs of the diocese, and even participated in the long-term planning for the future of the diocese beyond your time – you’ve given us an inspiring and beautiful example of living by faith, he said. ‘Be assured that every one of us walks the journey with you in our prayers.’
In his farewell speech, Tony acknowledged the countless people he has worked with including clergy, principals and school staff, diocesan staff, and members of various boards and committees.
‘I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with you – your contribution to me and my role here has been significant,’ he said. ‘To you all: thank you most sincerely for everything you have done for me.’
As well as his major church responsibilities, Tony has also been very involved in the local community. He spent a decade as chairperson of Manawatu Rugby Union, and since 2016 has been a trustee for the Manawatu Community Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that offers affordable housing for pensioners and disabled.