Father Bede Murphy, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1898-1943)

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Born Alphonse Murphy on September 1, 1898 in Hancock, Michigan, he attended local Catholic schools which were under the care of the Sisters of St. Joseph. He also attended the local Catholic high school. He went to the Preparatory Seminary of the Passionists in Cincinnati, Ohio in the summer of 1913 and after four months entered the novitiate in Louisville, Kentucky where he professed his vows on February 28, 1915. Bede was his religious name. He then went on to Chicago, Illinois for continued studies, except for one year at St. Paul, Kansas. He was ordained on August 14, 1921 by Bishop McGavick in Chicago. A year of sacred eloquence followed. While in the midst of this excitement to be a preacher he was told by his superiors that his skills were needed as a Passionist professor. He began to teach Sacred Scripture. After a year or so of teaching he was sent to the L’Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem which was directed by Father Lagrange. It was a difficult time. Lectures were in French and the professors presumed a working knowledge of Oriental languages of the Near East, especially Hebrew and Greek. Father Murphy had a rudimentary knowledge of French and almost no knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. With the assistance of a private tutor he began to master the task. He filled personal notebooks which indicate the hours of study. He gained incredible knowledge. While the L’Ecole Biblique does not give degrees he did bring back a font of knowledge which he could share. From 1926 until 1930 he was a professor of Sacred Scripture always urging his students to answer the question “What does the text say?” At various times he was able to be a preacher of parish missions, retreats and devotions. In 1934 he was diagnosed with diabetes which meant he would have to give up his desire to be a full-time preacher. In 1936 he suffered a complete collapse of health. Doctors thought a warmer climate would help so he was sent from Des Moines, Iowa to Louisville where his health improved and he was director of students from 1938 until 1940. At that time he was sent on to the Birmingham, Alabama foundation for a year, however this climate did not help him. In 1941 he was sent back to Louisville, went to St. Joseph’s infirmary and then in the spring of 1942 suffered a heart attack, followed by another one in the fall of the same year. He died in the spring of 1943 in Louisville.