Sister Mary Katherine Murphy, Age 90

West Midwest

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sister Katherine (previously Sister Mary Brendan) grew up with a firm foundation in her Irish Catholic faith. Her parents were both honored and sad when their only child told them of her vocation to religious life at age 15. Nonetheless, they supported her, and she joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1946.

Sister Katherine taught primary grade children and First Communion preparation for 31 years in Berkley, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Ludington, Lansing, Manistee and Hazel Park, Michigan. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in reading at Cardinal Stritch College and attended numerous workshops to maintain and improve her teaching skills.

After a 1980 sabbatical year, she became part of the staff at St. Francis Parish in Traverse City, Michigan, and spent the next 34 years there, active in every aspect of parish life. She truly enjoyed her work with the elderly, especially those who were poor or lonely. She managed a food and clothing service and helped direct the RCIA program. She also worked with young altar servers and made sure they understood their work, often attending all the weekend Masses to be certain they did. The St. Francis football team could count on her presence for every home game, where she and her dog had their own special observation post.

Sister Katherine had no immediate family members, so the parish families were, in fact, her family. When she retired to McAuley Center in 2015, they did not forget her and continued their annual gifts of Traverse City cherries and apples every season. And they kept in contact with her by calling, sending cards, emails and flowers, often stopping to see her when they came to the Detroit area.

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