#Article (Archive)

Fr. Murphy moves after 30 years

Jun 30, 2010, 1:48 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

Reverend Father Matthias Murphy, a member of the Holy Ghost Congregation now known as Spiritans has retired after spending over three decades at the Holy Spirit Parish in Banjul as he worked at the Saint Augustine's High School.

Before coming to The Gambia, Fr. Murphy had served ten years in Nigeria and has vivid memory of those years. Today he retires and would go home to Ireland for a short break before returning to go on retirement at Lamin, where he will live to enjoy his old age. Christian Panorama follows the retirement process from the Holy Spirit Church at Banjul and reports.

"All is well that ends well." This is an old adage that applies in the case of one of the most dedicated men to his people entrusted to him and to God who appointed him to serve his people through the priesthood that he has lived all his life time. The Bible says, "A day in the Lord's House is better than ten thousand elsewhere." These are all true of Fr. Murphy, who served the Gambian people for over three decades, nearly half of his lifetime was laid for his people, people he calls his own. In his own words, "It is not easy to leave the things you cherish in your heart and had planned to use in the near future, it is hard." Little did he knew he would be retiring and leaving the Holy Spirit Church and its people.

Fr. Murphy in his homily says, "When we learnt catechism we are asked, 'what do we receive at Confirmation? It is obviously the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The whole Africa, according to the African Map at the back of the Church, has received the seven gifts. Ghana has received Fortitude. Fortitude is a kind of bravery as long as you have God's fear on your side and today's gospels are in line with fortitude," he said.

In Fr. Murphy's speech he said people should remember fortitude. He recalled ten years before his coming to The Gambia from Nigeria. He said on all transports in Nigeria had one inscription or the other. "Things like the Lord is my Shepherd! Etc. And I remember another, which reads, 'Who knows tomorrow?' I am leaving Holy Spirit and moving to a small house in Lamin for a few weeks and go home to come back in September to stay at Lamin. It is painful to loose things that you think are useful and would be useful in the near future and you leave them behind," he said.

He further talked about Elisha and Elijah and how God had said Elisha will anoint Elijah and was moved. He said when your days come, be it long or short, is not for you to know one has to prepare for what is to come in the future.

He further said that it was only Jesus who knew what He was going to do in Jerusalem. Then a man said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." Someone had suggested that the man might have been a spy. Jesus said, "No man can light a candle and hide it under a bucket. Follow me and follow me now." Another said let me go and say good bye first. But Jesus said to him, "If you put your hand on the plough do not look back."

A personal letter addressed to Felix Ceesay from Bishop Robert Ellison CSSp, Bishop of Banjul reads: "Dear Felix Ceesay, Fr. Murphy is due to retire at the end of June, 2010. I wish to officially inform the faithful about this development."

The Bishop's letter continued to say that Fr. Murphy has dedicated to the service of God for thirty or more years. "A new priest is to be appointed in September. Meanwhile, Fr. Yennis Manneh will oversee the Church till September when a new priest will be appointed."

In his response, Felix Ceesay, one of the senior parishioners of Holy Spirit Church at Kampama, asked the congregation to imagine how many of them were above thirty years and how old they were when Fr. Murphy came to the Church. "Bravo Fr. Murphy! If you have a good father and he educates you and you graduate from the university, how would you feel if he goes away? We shall invite Fr. Murphy to the parish and celebrate with him. His celebration would be above our parish feast celebration.