Born on 28 October 1920 in Eastwood (NSW), Patrick Laurence Murphy was the eldest of seven children to Timothy Francis Murphy and Catherine Imelda Deloughery. Patrick Murphy attended St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School (run by the Sisters of Mercy) for his early education, completing his schooling at St Patrick’s Christian Brothers College, Strathfield. After high school, he worked for six months in the Commonwealth Bank.
Deciding to enter the priesthood, he undertook studies at St Columba’s Seminary Springwood from 1937 to 1940 and then at St Patrick’s College, Manly, from 1941 to 1944.
He was ordained priest on 22 July 1944 in St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney by Archbishop Norman Gilroy and incardinated into the Sydney Archdiocese, taking up a brief appointment at Waterloo.
During the last months of the War in 1945, Patrick Murphy left to study for a Doctorate in Theology at Maynooth, and then Rome, when it was re-opened in 1946. He completed these studies in 1949 at the Urban University attached to Propaganda College.
On his return from overseas in July of 1949, he was placed as Assistant Priest at Holy Cross Woollahra for eight months before a placement on the staff at St Patrick’s College Manly where he stayed until the end of 1973 teaching Dogmatic Theology.
Patrick Murphy spent twenty-six years on the staff at St Patrick’s College Manly, including Vice President of the College in 1966 and Rector of the Post Graduate House in1969. During this time also did supply work to Manly, Clovelly and Harbord Parishes.
In 1973, he took up the appointment of Parish Priest at Epping and remained there until 1976.
Patrick Murphy was elected Bishop on 20 December 1976 as Titular Bishop of Acqua Numidia; Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney. He was consecrated (ordained as Bishop) on 22 January 1977 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney by Cardinal James Freeman (Consecrating Bishop) the Archbishop of Sydney, assisted by Archbishop Thomas Cahill, the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, and Archbishop James Carroll, the Titular Archbishop of Amasea.
When the Archdiocese of Sydney was divided into pastoral regions in 1978 he was given responsibility for the Inner Western Region, which stretched from Stanmore to Parramatta. His base was the Parish of Concord where he was Parish Priest. Besides these regional responsibilities he had also been the President of St Patrick’s College Manly in 1978-79, Episcopal Vicar for Education, Chairman of the Sydney Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Board and Chairman of the Catholic Education Commission of NSW.
In 1984 Bishop Murphy was given Archdiocesan responsibility for the Northern Region of Sydney which subsequently led to his appointment as the first Bishop of Broken Bay on 14 April 1986. He was installed as Bishop for this newly created Diocese on 28 May 1986.
Bishop Patrick Murphy was a man who had known the difficult years of the Great Depression, World War and Cold War. His own seminary training gave him the experience of the Church in Sydney, Ireland and Rome. As a priest his main involvement had been in various roles of teaching and authority at St Patrick’s College, Manly, the large Australian seminary, which educated students from NSW and some other states for the diocesan priesthood. It was a challenging and very difficult time for the seminary staff, who were attempting to reshape the formation curriculum in the light of the new currents of thinking of the Second Vatican Council.
At Manly, Patrick Murphy came to know many seminarians who later would be priests in his own Diocese. He was well regarded for his bringing the priests of his new Diocese together, as in the annual clergy conferences, and creating a diocesan spirit amongst them.
He was sixty-five years of age and well-experienced as an auxiliary bishop when entrusted with the leadership of the new Diocese. Broken Bay was now an independent community in the Church and he was the head of the community. He wasn’t one to articulate lofty goals and elaborate programs. He would reflect later that having a new Diocese really meant carrying on services and procedures already operating. In his own words – “Getting on with the job.”
During his episcopate, Bishop Murphy maintained a style of hard-work, lean administration and firm leadership, right through to his retirement on 9 July 1996.
Bishop Patrick Laurence Murphy passed away peacefully on 18 March 2007, at the Mater Hospital, North Sydney after a long illness.