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