In Memoriam: Brother Thomas Murphy, C.F.X.

(Brother Gavin)

1928 – 2023

Ardent devotion to the Congregation’s mission, sincere affection for his Brothers in community, compassionate service to all whom he met throughout his seventy-six years as a Xaverian Brother are the signature qualities that flow from Brother Thomas Murphy’s single-minded response to God’s call to follow Christ. Brother Thomas entered eternal life peacefully on December 12, 2023.  He was pre-deceased by his two sisters and his brother. He is survived by nieces and a nephew. 

Brother Thomas was born in Brooklyn, New York to Thomas and Agnes Murphy. Tom attended Saint Teresa’s Elementary School where he first met the Xaverian Brothers. Upon graduation from Saint Teresa’s in 1943, Tom entered Saint Joseph’s Juniorate in Peabody, Massachusetts, a secondary school for young men thinking about becoming a Brother. After graduating from the Juniorate in 1947, Tom entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in Fort Monroe, Virginia where he received the Xaverian habit and religious named ‘Brother Gavin.’ In 1953, Tom graduated from the Catholic University of America with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin, French and Social Studies. Over the next several years, Tom earned his Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at Saint John’s University and did further studies in Spanish and Education at the Catholic University and at the University of Maryland. 

Brother Thomas’ devotion to the work of the Congregation was shaped by his many experiences of mission and ministry that included elementary and secondary education   both in the United States and in Kenya. In retirement, Tom also did volunteer ministry, teaching English to immigrants as well as assisting the poor in Baltimore. 

Each day Tom had to renew the promise he made ‘to live a life of love…as a disciple of Jesus Christ as a Xaverian Brother.’ (FP) His commitment was clear. He understood our Founder’s counsel, ‘that nothing special is achieved without much labor, effort and zeal.’ Students, whether at St. Matthew’s Grade School, the Mount, Flaget, Good Counsel or Xaverian Brooklyn, knew ‘Brother Gavin’ was devoted to their learning and well-being as people. He enjoyed many enduring relationships with his students.  

Gentle by disposition, Tom’s fraternal love for his Brothers was expressed with genuine affection. In his attitude, his quiet questions and in his caring help of his Brothers. Our Fundamental Principles exhort us to ‘cultivate a sincere friendship and a warm affection for your brothers, for it is. In the manifestation of honest fraternal concern and love for each other that you and they will show you are sons of Ryken and disciples of Jesus.’ (FP) Tom was both a son of Ryken and disciple of the Lord.

In 1997, at age sixty-nine Tom was asked to join our mission in Kenya. His deep desire to see the Congregation continue, impelled Tom’s response to the needs of Kenya. He ministered at both St. Joseph Centre, Bungoma and at the scholasticate in Nairobi. Tom shared our Founder’s vision of ‘the Church’s mission of evangelization through a life of gospel witness lived in solidarity and availability among the people.’ (FP) In this case, among the Kenyans. Tom served as Regional Superior in Kenya for four years.

Upon return from Kenya, Tom joined the Beechfield Community in Baltimore where he was the community animator and was involved in volunteer ministries. When Beechfield closed, Tom spent three years at Ryken House, our then retirement home in Louisville. Then Tom transferred to Xaverian House in Danvers in 2019. He spent his final days at Mary Immaculate in Lawrence, Massachusetts where he peacefully passed away on December 12, 2023.

Brother Thomas’ legacy to the Congregation is one of simplicity, zeal for our mission, a deep sense of fraternal love and compassion for all whom he served as well as a quick sense of humor. Tom heeded well the words of our Fundamental Principles. ‘As a follower of Jesus and a brother of your brothers, keep ever before you the motto of the congregation: Concordia res parvae crescunt.  In harmony small things grow.’ (FP)

We thank Brother Thomas for his wonderful example of what it means to be a Xaverian Brother.

May Tom now enjoy the peace of Jesus whom he so faithfully followed. 

Requiescat in pace, Frater.

Prepared by Brother Edward Driscoll, C.F.X.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, December 15 at St. John’s Prep Chapel in Danvers, MA. The viewing will be at 2:00 p.m. followed by Mass at 3:00 p.m. Committal service will be done in Chapel. There will be no cemetery visit, no collation. 

11 comments on “Brother Thomas Murphy, C.F.X.

  1. Anthony Coscia on

    Dear Brother Ed,
    Your eulogy of Brother Tom was very touching. You truly portrayed the wonderful qualities of a gentle, kind and spiritual man. Having been with him in guidance a number of years, I can attest to the fact that he was an inspiration for me and our students as well.
    I hope you are well and thanks for mentoring our past Associate meetings and have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Joan DiNapoli on

    Brother, tom murphy was a gentle, loving person. I was blessed to have him as my uncle. He always made me feel special and loved encouraged us to always follow our faith. I will miss him and I’m very happy that I got to see him this summer. I celebrate that he is in heaven with his family and friends rest in peace my dear love Joan

  3. John Paul Ngeso Aketch on

    Bro.Tom (BTM),as we referred to him was great and warm person to interact with. As our postulant formator, he was ready to reach out to all of us and journey with each us through formation.
    He was firm but kind teacher who loved us all. May God grant his repose soul eternal rest! Go well BTM!

  4. Paul Woolley on

    Another fine Xaverian Brother passes. Requiescat in Pace. You were one of the several Brothers at Flaget High School where I was impressed by what I saw among that community of men. It’s why I wanted to be a Xaverian. While I remember little of the Latin you taught me, I will never forget the camaraderie, kindness, and professionalism among the brothers that attracted me to your mission. I am so sorry to see you pass.

  5. George F. Russell on

    I’m sometimes asked why I took Latin as a freshman subject at Our Lady of Good Counsel HS (Wheaton, MD).
    Answer: It was a requirement in 1966.
    OK, but why did you take three more years of Latin.
    Answer; Because Bro. Gavin (Thomas Murphy) made it clear, interesting, and fun.
    After Latin-I, I never had him as an instructor again, but I can still hear him dealing out the “proper” classical pronunciations as he went through the elementary declensions of first-year Latin. He never did explain why agricola-ae was a feminine first declension noun, but he always smiled as he shrugged his shoulders in response to that inevitable question. His voice was authoritative without raising it, and he was patient with those who struggled. He was simply a kind human being who really enjoyed when he saw the light click on when one of his students “got it”. Requiesce in pace, Brother G.

  6. Richard Montalbano on

    I was fortunate to work with Brother Tom at Xaverian High School in Bklyn. He became a dear friend from the moment I meet him. He was a special individual. He was kind and generous to all who came in contact with him. He was an inspiration of what it means to be a Catholic educator. He was a tremendous asset to our school. It was because of Brother Tom’s invitation that I became an Associate. Brother Gavin was so right; Brother Tom was, “a wonderful example of what it means to be a Xaverian Brother.”

  7. Chrispinus Masika. on

    Though far because of the distance but very close in Spirit because of that Energetic Br, I cry deeply in my heart because I will miss brother physically, but strongly join the entire Community of the Xaverians all over the world to Celebrate that Special gift of Br. Thomas’ life amongst us God’s family. I Remember always when I seek his guidance while in Bungoma as an a Postulate, will pate my shoulders as we move from his room towards the chapel which was between his room and the living room. I hear a soft voice saying: Go on Br.Catechist Chrispinus, it is all about God, not man. But as a community we have to understand the strength and the weakness of every brother in the house, that is our duty to pray for every member. Let his Soul R.I.P. Brs be strong, be blessed. Chrispinus Masika,
    X-Xaverian Br. Kenya.

  8. Dan Brodt on

    Brother Gavin. I had you for a few years while in Wheaton(’65). Stern, objective, passionate…You taught me alot!
    You are now in heaven and no “jug” slipes are allowed! LOL!
    God Bless and THANK YOU!
    Dan Brodt’65

  9. Edouard H. Motte on

    Good evening !
    I happened to have been trained by Xaverian brothers in U.K. around 1949-50 . That was at the Junior School of Heathfield- Waldron in Sussex , The main institution was in Mayfield , also in Sussex. Were these schools also part of the same order here above described. I later heard the communities had been disbanded.
    My recollection of that year in my schooling was extremely beneficial . The community had a staff member ship of about 7 brethren; during the first quarter about four of them spoke French to me . By the second the number was reduced to two and during the last quarter only the principal talked in my native language. I am truky indebted to them all in the training i received in English and math at the school. Upon return to U.K. for short language upkeep summer stays in british families I vainly tried to reconnect with the school(s) the order . For now I am just curious to know whether this very strong internship school system has completely evaporated.
    Should there be still some documentation about CFX activities, I should be happy to hear about them . Are there some institutions in the BALTO-WASH area that work for the benefit of poorer youths? Thank you to the CFZ community for the wonderful training I received from you. A very old alumni and now fully retired engineer.


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