July 23, 2012
On Friday, 27th July, 2012 numerous family members, friends and as many Sisters of St Joseph as can get there, will gather at St Columba’s Church, South Perth to bid a final fond farewell to Sr Elizabeth Murphy RSJ.
At about 4pm on Friday 20th July, Elizabeth breathed her last. She was in her 89th year and for all but the first 16 of those she was a faithful, dynamic and much loved Sister of St Joseph. Most of her religious life was spent in the province of West Australia where she was a contented and inspiring member of community. She possessed a deep faith in God, a strong commitment to her religious life, a lively sense of humour, an amazing range of domestic of skills and outstanding ability as a teacher.
Past pupils whom Elizabeth taught in Manjimup and New Norcia especially, continue to speak warmly of her profound impact on their education and lives. Many of them gathered at Margaret Hubery Nursing Home in January of this year to celebrate Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee of Religious profession.
In 1977 Elizabeth was elected to serve as the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph. This leadership role she fulfilled with foresight, imagination, wisdom, diligence, inclusivity and humility for a period of twelve years. Following the completion of her second term of office as Congregation Leader, Elizabeth volunteered to minister among people at the edges of society in El Pacifico, Peru. There too both men and women speak with appreciation of Elizabeth’s empathy and assistance.
In the last few years the effects of a stroke deprived Elizabeth of mobility and her capacity to speak. For a woman who had been so profound a thinker and so eloquent a speaker all her life one can only imagine how trying this trial must have been. Her acceptance and resignation spoke volumes!
As Sr Pauline Morgan, Provincial of the Sisters of St Joseph, said in a letter to the Sisters: We can only rejoice for Elizabeth, the person she has been, her commitment to our Congregation, her leadership and example, her love for and acceptance of each one of us, her acceptance of suffering in her final years.
How fortunate we are that such an example of love and faithfulness should walk among us!