As a child, Msgr. Michael D. Murphy contemplated priesthood. The words of his mother changed his life.
While he paced the upstairs of his house, questioning if entering the seminary was the right move, he said his mother told him to simply check it out, and he could always return home. That advice, he said, was powerful enough that, if approached by someone discerning and looking for guidance, he tells them the same thing.
“I can't imagine doing something different than what I have done. It’s been extremely fulfilling,” he says.
Msgr. Murphy was ordained in 1966, and over his 51 years of service in the diocese, he has served at 11 different parishes, including St. Patrick’s in Brighton and St. Thomas Aquinas in East Lansing. In addition, he has served the Diocese of Lansing as vicar for religious, moderator of the curia and vicar general.
Over the years, Msgr. Murphy has encountered many men and women who have impacted him in some way, and he remembers what he calls an “extraordinary moment” when he received a call from a parishioner who was a psychologist. The parishioner, he says, had been helping a woman who was experiencing issues with forgiveness, and he asked Msgr. Murphy if he would meet with the woman.
“It turns out, the woman had been terribly abused,” he explains. She ended up working as a prostitute in Detroit, abused drugs and at one point had an abortion.
“I told her, ‘In order to get over this stuff, you have to forgive those people,’” he says. “That stunned her.”
He met with the woman a few times, guiding her to finding forgiveness. He then obtained her permission to share her story.
About a year later, Msgr. Murphy closed a retreat by telling the “extraordinary moment,” but what he didn’t know is that the moment would continue.
He recalls: “A woman came charging out after me ... and she takes a diamond ring off her hand, and she says, ‘I want you to give this to that lady.’”
The ring was given to the woman at the retreat by her husband, and she asked Msgr. Murphy to also relay a message that not all men are abusive – that her husband loved and cared for her.
He was eventually able to find the woman and give her the ring.
Msgr. Murphy says the woman told him she has experienced every type of drug, but the ring was a “much better high than anything.”
Despite these “extraordinary moments,” Msgr. Murphy says his life has come with its challenges. But he knows he’s not alone. While reading daily meditations from the saints, he has realized that every saint faced constant difficulties and conflicts, and those struggles are important pieces of life. He stresses that we must remember to remain faithful and move forward.
“It’s been a wonderful journey and I love it. I would tell a young man, ‘I loved what I've done and it’s good for me. Check it out’; or, as Jesus said, ‘Come and see,’” he says. Msgr. Murphy represents many men who have served the diocese with distinction. Part of the diocesan-wide Witness to Hope campaign is to honor their “extraordinary moments” and challenges by providing for them in their retirement.