Murphy, Richard James Francis, 1875-1957, Jesuit priest

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Murphy, Richard James Francis, 1875-1957, Jesuit priest

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Dick Murphy
  • Murphy, Richard JF

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

24 April 1875-13 November 1957


Born: 24 April 1875, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1892, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 26 July 1908, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 24 May 1911, St Mary’s, Miller Street, Sydney, Australia
Died: 13 November 1957, Canisius College, Pymble, Sydney, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

by 1896 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
Came to Australia for Regency1898
by 1910 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online :
Murphy, Richard James Francis (1875–1957)
by Judith Nolan
Judith Nolan, 'Murphy, Richard James Francis (1875–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000

Catholic priest; schoolteacher

Died : 13 November 1957, Lewisham, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Richard James Francis Murphy (1875-1957), Jesuit priest, was born on 24 April 1875 at Kingstown, Dublin, one of ten children of Richard James Murphy, merchant, and his wife Mary Josephine, née Burden. Dick attended Clongowes Wood College and entered the Society of Jesus at Tullamore at the age of 17. He completed philosophy studies at Maison St Louis, Jersey, Channel Islands, and Stonyhurst College, England, in 1898. Arriving in Sydney in September, he taught at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, and from 1901 at St Patrick's College, Melbourne, where he also organised the work of the Professional Men's Sodality of Our Lady. In 1904 he returned to Dublin. After studying theology at Milltown Park, he was ordained priest on 26 July 1908.

In Sydney again, Murphy taught (1910-11 and 1915-16) at St Aloysius' College. An outstanding tennis player, he was responsible for forming the Catholic Lawn Tennis Association of New South Wales. In 1911 he was transferred to Loyola, Greenwich, to direct retreats for laymen. He developed a strong commitment to medico-moral issues and lectured to nurses at St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst. In 1912 he was a founder of the Catholic Federation of New South Wales. Launched into parochial duties in 1916 as parish priest (superior) at Toowong, Brisbane, he was appointed to Richmond, Melbourne, in 1919. He spent four months in hospital with pneumonia and serious heart problems, but unexpectedly recovered.

Back in Sydney, Murphy was bursar (1920-21) at Riverview for the college and the entire Sydney Mission before returning to pastoral duties at North Sydney (1921-22) and Lavender Bay (1922-24). He lectured on medical ethics to students at the University of Sydney. His book, The Catholic Nurse (Milwaukee, 1923), led him to found the Catholic Nurses' Guild of New South Wales. While superior (1924-33) at Toowong, he supervised the construction of St Ignatius' Church. Between 1933 and 1953 he was based in the parish of North Sydney. With Dr H. M. Moran, he inaugurated the Catholic Medical Guild of St Luke in 1933; he edited its Transactions, in which he published (1943) two articles, 'Catholic Hospitals of Australia' and 'The History of Nursing in Australia'. A council-member of the Newman Association of Catholic Graduates, Murphy founded the Campion Society in Melbourne in 1934 and introduced it to Sydney, where its autonomy was initially suppressed because Archbishop Kelly 'liked to keep a tight rein on his lay societies'. Murphy established the Catholic Chemists Guild of St Francis Xavier. He also set up an organisation for the religious education of Catholic children in state schools.

Although described as a 'diffident' superior, Fr Dick was an enthusiastic, zealous and energetic man who saw the Catholic laity as 'the draught horses of the Church'. He, Dr Sylvester Minogue (a psychiatrist) and others founded Alcoholics Anonymous in Australia in July 1945. Minogue (overlooking Fr Dunlea) noted that with 'the exception of Father Murphy . . . no other clergyman takes any active interest', and observed that he was 'the only one of us with any practical commonsense'. Lillian Roth, the actress, acknowledged the help she had received from Murphy.

In 1955 Murphy retired to Canisius' College, Pymble. He died on 13 November 1957 in Lewisham Hospital and was buried in Gore Hill cemetery.

Select Bibliography
L. Roth, I'll Cry Tomorrow (Lond, 1955)
D. Coleman, Priest of the Highway (Syd, 1973)
C. Jory, The Campion Society and Catholic Social Militancy in Australia 1929-1939 (Syd, 1986)
St Aloysius' College (Sydney), The Aloysian, 1957, p 24
St Ignatius' College, Riverview (Sydney), Our Alma Mater, 1958, p 184
Catholic Weekly (Sydney), 18 Sept 1952, 21 Nov 1957
AA Assn papers (Alcoholics Anonymous Archives, Croydon, Sydney)
Fr R. J. Murphy, SJ, papers (Society of Jesus Archives, Hawthorn, Melbourne).

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Richard Murphy entered the Society at Tullabeg, 7 September 1892, completed his juniorate studies at Milltown Park, Dublin, 1894-95, studied philosophy at Jersey, 1895-98, and then was sent to Australia and St Ignatius' College, Riverview, and St Patrick's College for regency, 1898-1905. During that time he taught, and was involved with prefecting and helped with the library and music. At St Patrick's, he was involved with the professional men's Sodality He returned to Dublin, and Milltown Park, for theology studies and Completed tertianship at Tronchiennes, 1909-10.
Upon his return to Australia, he spent a year at St Aloysius' College, before being appointed superior of Loyola College, Greenwich, where he was involved with men's retreats and pastoral work. He was also socius to the master of novices, 1914-15.
He was appointed the first superior and parish priest of Toowong, Brisbane, 1916-19, where he remained until a serious illness saw him once again in Melbourne at the parish of Richmond. Then he spent a year at Riverview and a year in the parish of North Sydney, before being appointed priest in charge of Lavender Bay in 1922. He returned to the Toowong parish, 1924-33, during which time he built the present Church. In 1933 he went to St Mary's, North Sydney, where he spent the next twenty years.
During all his active priestly life he took a great interest in university students and professional men. With Dr Herbert “Paddy” Moran, he inaugurated the Catholic Medical Guild, of which he was the first chaplain in 1934. He was also instrumental in forming similar guilds in Adelaide Perth, Brisbane, Bathurst, Goulburn, and Young. He wrote “The Catholic Nurse” (1923), and several pamphlets.
Some years later he initiated the Catholic Chemists' Guild and the Sydney Campion Society. He took a lively interest in the Newman Association of Australia and in the formation of the Teachers' Guild, for teaching religion in government schools.
Alcoholics Anonymous was another body in which he took a great and practical interest. In all these and other activities that claimed his care and organising ability his knowledge of human nature and common-sense approach endeared him to countless friends and associates. His last years were spent in retirement at Canisius College, Pymble, from 1955.
Murphy was one of the best known and most successful parish Jesuits. He inaugurated the Toowong parish and organised it very well, He founded the Catholic Tennis Association in Brisbane and helped to found it in Sydney. As a superior he was perhaps inclined to be too diffident, but he was very prudent and level-headed and a sound and careful organiser. He was full of enthusiasm without being extravagant, and was able to communicate his enthusiasm to others. Though he learned to drive a car, he always preferred to walk as long as his legs would carry him.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 1st Year No 2 1926

Irish Province News 1st Year No 2 1926

Residence. S F XAVIER (Lavender Bay) :
Lavender Bay became an independent parish in 1921. Its First Pastor was Fr R O'Dempsey. He was succeeded by Fr R Murphy, who built the new school, enlarged the hall, and established four tennis courts. The present Pastor so Fr J Magan. All three are old Clongowes boys. The parish contains St, Aloysius' College, two primary schools and two large convents. Numbered amongst the parishioners is His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area

Subject access points

Place access points


Control area

Authority record identifier

IE IJA J/1805

Maintained by

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC

Related subjects

Related places