It was with sadness that people of the Diocese of Palmerston North and beyond learned of Tony Murphy’s death, on 20 November, after a battle with cancer.
Tony retired last year after 18 years as general manager of the Diocese of Palmerston North. Strongly community minded, he was also chairman of the Manawatū Rugby Union for six years.
Tony, aged 69, was the dearly loved husband of Denise, loved father and father-in-law of Dean and Nicola, Joanne and Gareth, Kate and Scott, Emma, Sam and Laura, and adored Grandad of his 12 grandchildren.
Mons Brian Walsh presided at Tony’s Requiem Mass on 24 November at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Concelebrants were Cardinal John Dew, Bishops Peter Cullinane and Owen Dolan, Fr Craig Butler and priests of the diocese. A video link was set up at the diocesan centre to livestream the service to the overflow of the many who attended.
At a farewell function in July last year, Tony was recognised for the outstanding professional and personal qualities he brought to the role, and the pastoral approach that was his hallmark. Mons 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.
For his service to the Church, Tony was awarded the title Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great in May this year, a title awarded by Pope Francis.
In a tribute at Tony’s funeral, eldest son Dean Murphy spoke in depth about Tony’s life, his values and his beliefs, including the importance to Tony of his family – being a proud Murphy and deeply proud of the family he and Denise created; of his work life, mainly with Feltex and the diocese; and of his commitment to service and giving back to his community.
Dean concluded with, ‘I’ve heard Dad say the following words on a number of sad occasions for others. I’d like to now say them on his behalf today. “While it’s a horrible disease, cancer cannot impede love, it cannot shatter hope, it cannot corrode faith, it cannot kill friendship, it cannot shut out memories, it cannot silence courage, and it cannot invade the soul.” Your influence, your inspiration and your impact will be with us forever.’