Sister Profile: S. Pat Murphy

Sister Pat Murphy

What was your motivation for entering the CSJ Community?
I had learned in 5th grade that the Sisters of St. Joseph took care of orphans. During my high school years, I volunteered (and was later hired during summers) at St. Joseph Home for Boys in St. Louis, at Grand Boulevard and Delor Avenue. I loved caring for these young charges and sought to do that for the rest of my life.

When did you know you had made the right decision?
From the beginning I feared being sent home for small infractions of the rules. That was the way of immaturity. Therefore, I was sure I was in the right place as long as I was allowed to stay at Carondelet.

What is your favorite ministry?
This is a hard one! I have loved almost every assignment, for some reason or another. When assigned to teach at St. Jude School, I also got to start a guitar group that played at one of the Sunday Masses. As one of the students put it, we “prayed” the Mass rather than just sing at it. Then there was the boys home where I got to be more than a teacher and disciplinarian, but also a nurturing figure. And Hawaii--what was there not to love? Besides the weather, scenery, and permanent friendships, I learned to set up, wire, and program a brand new computer lab. In 2008, I was one of five Sisters of St. Joseph who first went to Gulu, Uganda. While that is not a place I “enjoyed,” it was an experience I wouldn’t change for anything. I could go on and on.

What experience shaped you most as a person of God?
One of the elements of my “shaping” had to be my father’s sincere and personal love of God/Jesus. Another very strong element has been and is my connection with nature. Only a loving and humorous God could possibly have created all of the nature to which I have been exposed.

What gets you out of bed?
There are a couple of ways to look at this question. The sunlight is an important element. My body tends to get tired when it gets dark and comes back to life with the morning light. On another level, though, I think it is a desire to be of service. There is someone who needs me or someone whom I need to see.

Are there any “Aha!” moments?
Oh, I do believe that my greatest “Aha” moment was saying “yes” to going to Gulu. It wasn’t that I truly wanted to go there. But there was a need and I was free and able to help out in that place. I know someone questioned that motivation, thinking that I felt required to do it, but that wasn’t where I was coming from. Being in a strange place where the culture was so different, yet the people were more accepting and loving than I could have imagined, helped me look at individuals everywhere with new eyes.

What do you see as the biggest societal problem?
It seems to me that too often we are so focused on our own needs and wants, the needs of the rest of the world aren’t considered. It’s a kind of self-centeredness. The more I have, the more I want, and that leads me to believing that my wants are actually my needs. Or because my neighbor has something, I need it also. It’s a vicious circle.

What is most interesting or intriguing about your work?
The longer I live, the more I discover the unexpected consequences of my words or works. Others may hear something from my mouth that I didn’t even know I said! Or, an automatic action of mine may make an impression on a bystander whom I hadn’t even realized was present in the scene.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I used to do more sewing and cross-stitching and quilting, but lately I have simply looked at items I started. I do hope to return to at least the quilting part. Another activity I have loved but now see as past history is camping in a tent in a sleeping bag on the ground. Old age has limited that! But I also love to read, write and send emails and do Sudoku. (I won’t buy any more of those Sudoku books since I get addicted and avoid other activities!) Walking and “research” on the computer also occupy my time.

What’s he last thing you do before you  go to sleep?
I pray.

What was your favorite subject in school?
It was a combination of music, art, and math. If you think about it, they are all related in some way.

Where have you traveled?
My traveling is mostly limited to ministry, but that has been wonderful! I spent six years in Hawaii which might be my favorite place, with its ocean, desert, mountains, fauna, sunsets – What is not to love? I also spent 3 ½ years in Gulu. The only other travel I did when I drove to Colorado to take an older sister for a visit, and two of us camped in the mountains that week. I loved it,but I don’t want to live there!

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