Ministering ‘from morning to midnight’
With a passion for ministry, Monsignor John P. Murphy serves in the Allentown Diocese . . .
Monsignor John P. Murphy
Lehigh Valley Chapter
“My bio could fit on a postage stamp,” jokes the longtime pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Allentown, Pa., the second of only two full-time parish assignments he has had since his ordination in 1964. But staying put for long periods has let him sink deep anchors in the parishes he has served while also assuming other roles within the diocese — including two he currently performs: diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States and chaplain of Legatus’ Lehigh Valley Chapter.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
It’s hard to go back and think of why. There were so many things that were involved. [Discernment] wasn’t a smooth, easy road. But I love being a priest. I believe it’s the greatest gift anyone could get, and there’s not a day I don’t thank God for the gift of the priesthood and the people I’m allowed to serve.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Before I became chaplain, the chapter would have their monthly Masses here at St. Thomas More. I’d go over and set up for them at church. I got to meet members, hear confessions and meet some of their speakers. Then about three years ago Bishop [John O.] Barres asked me to become chaplain after the previous chaplain stepped down.
I see Legatus as an organization with great potential to make a difference. Members have a strong foundation in the mission and message of Jesus Christ. They have the power to spread the Christian message from their positions of influence, plus all the other opportunities to exercise leadership that come their way. This ability of theirs is a great gift to the Church.
What impact has the chapter had on the Allentown diocese?
First, many members assume leadership roles in their own parishes. They also take active roles in different diocesan activities and programs, be it Catholic Charities, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal or Catholic education in general — but especially the religious education of children. They’re a group of people who truly want to make a difference.
I would really welcome more members to come into the chapter and embrace the Legatus mission “To study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in [their] business, professional, and personal lives.” There are 14 CEO members now. Bishop Barres is very much involved with the chapter, making time to meet with members and acquaint them with various programs taking place in the diocese.
How do you approach your role as chaplain?
I celebrate Mass each month and also offer Reconciliation. I’m called upon to be at their executive board meetings, and they kindly seek my input.
I enjoy being chaplain. The members are very inspiring people of deep faith who bring their faith into their homes, communities and work places. And I appreciate their guest speakers because they’re excellent at communicating the values of Christianity and how those values must operate within all the areas of our lives, especially the marketplace.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
You’re talking to a total workaholic. I go from morning to midnight. That’s not a schedule I’d advocate everyone following, that’s just who I am. My priesthood is my life. But I am an avid Cardinals fan.
Any lessons you’ve learned as a priest that are especially apt for business leaders?
The greatest lesson you can learn in life is that you’re not alone in your work. The Spirit of God is alive and flourishing, inspiring and guiding us to do good. We’re not alone in our work if we’re open to His grace. Then we’re able to do what He’s called us to do.