Remembering Father Murphy


Fr_Daniel_MurphyBy Katherine Long
Sun associate editor

Father Daniel Murphy, a beloved priest who served the Diocese of Syracuse for his entire career, died Oct. 13. He was 81.

After graduating from St. Patrick’s Academy, St. Michael’s College, St. Bonaventure University and Christ the King Seminary, Father Murphy was ordained in 1956 by Bishop Walter Foery. For more than 40 years, he worked in parishes mostly in the Southern Tier, serving as assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Cleveland, St. James Church in Johnson City, St. Ambrose Church in Endicott and Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Endicott, and as pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Hamilton, St. Catherine’s Church in Binghamton and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Windsor. He also served as chaplain of the Chapter of Catholic Nurses and Knights of Columbus, Endicott Council and as a member of the CCD Executive Committee. He retired in 2000.

Father Murphy lay in state on Oct. 17 at St. Patrick’s Church in Binghamton; a vigil for the deceased was also held.

A funeral Mass was concelebrated at the church the following morning, with Bishop Thomas Costello as the principal celebrant. The pews were filled with those whose lives Father Murphy had touched over the years, from family, friends and fellow priests to former parishoners and those who knew him from the community.

Father Stanley Gerlock, who said he and Father Murphy “go back a long time,” delivered the homily.

Father Gerlock remembered Father Murphy as a good friend and great priest, a quick wit who enjoyed a trip to the horse races. Father Gerlock commended Father Murphy for his strength and will as his health declined, saying he “never once complained” about losing his eyesight, balance and mobility. Father Gerlock also quoted something Father Murphy used to say: “Aspire to inspire before you expire.”

“He did,” Father Gerlock said. “And he was very, very good at it.”

There were many tears as Father Murphy was borne from the church at the close of Mass. One mourner gave the priest a small, solemn wave goodbye.

But at the reception following the Mass, thoughts turned to happier memories. Former parishoners recalled him as a charming, lively man with an endlessly positive nature. He loved jokes and was quick to play them. He knew everyone by name, a sign of his deep care for and interest in those he ministered to. Father Murphy was an inspiration to many, and in many different ways. Thomas Boyle, a former parishoner, even named his pub after the priest — Padre Murphy’s in Glendale, AZ. Every St. Patrick’s Day,  Father Murphy flew out to celebrate the holiday at his namesake watering hole.

Father Murphy’s cousin, Mary Wilson, summed it up best. “He was a true priest, all around,” she said. “He was the best.”

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