In DB's garden

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Salesian for the poor and Mission partners


By Bro. David O'Brien, SDB


Melbourne, Australia, 30 April 2017 -- I believe Fr. John Murphy (Senior) was born in the Melbourne suburb of Middle Park on May 15 1924. He was finally professed on 31 January 1942 and ordained a priest on 2 July 1950. He went to the Salesian garden last Sunday, April 30 in Warnambool, Victoria State (4 hours drive from Melbourne) as the most senior member of Australia - Pacific province at the age of 93.


He was among the first Australian Salesian Novices and then also involved in the formation of young Salesians as their Master of Novices (1961 - 1966). His love for Don Bosco and the Salesian Charism, Salesian Family was known by many.


He was among other things instrumental in founding Lysterfield and setting it up as the Novitiate, Post-novitiate and teacher training facility. In the early 70s he moved to Shamrock House in Crossley (Warrnambool in South Western Victoria). This was while he was delegate to the Association of the Salesian Cooperators.


Shamrock House became a base for Cooperators, young Cooperators 12 Star & Dominic Savio clubs (correspondence and formation for youngsters) Summer & winter Camps operated from here as well and a small youth centre with trampolines a pool and table tennis and 8 ball tables. Yes, his passion for the poor and Salesian Cooperators were his trademarks.


I met Fr John in 1976 when I left the railways and joined the community which Fr John had started I was so inspired with the work there from manual type work to office work I spent about 4 years with him. In 1981 I was fortunate to go to Europe pilgrimage, including the Salesian holy places. Then I spent two months working at Savio House in Bollington, UK and with the Salesian Retreat team in Ireland. When I returned I wanted to join the Salesians and Fr John suggested I wait another 12 months and I obeyed and joined in 1983.


Since then Fr John has been a mentor for me even though we may not have written to each other or regularly spoke on the phone I would try and call into to see him if I was ever around visiting my family (from South West Victoria). Fr John was well known and well respected by the people of Warrnambool for his work with poor people who were down and out he housed and was active in counselling for many in the latter years at Shamrock house which became an accommodation place for the less fortunate in the community.

He also had many friends and acquaintances Australia wide through the 12 star & Dominic Savio clubs and Salesian Cooperators. in around 2009 he retired from Shamrock House and eventually he was put into care at Mercy place in Warrnambool. I visited him many times when he was there he remained in very good mental condition but his body was giving up.


Fr John was in the words of many a holy and humble SALESIAN. We will miss him.


May God call him to His Home in Heaven!


Good Bye Fr John!




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