Living the Faith: Dick Murphy

QUINCY -- Dick Murphy cares for the church that has cared for him.

As groundskeeper for St. Ann Parish in the Wollaston section of Quincy, where he and his wife Maureen are longtime parishioners, Dick views his job as a call from God.

Maureen describes it this way: “He is giving his life to God’s garden.”

Dick, 79, became the groundskeeper after losing his job 16 years ago. “I thought I’d fall apart -- I never thought it would happen to us,” he recounted.

Unsure what to do, he, his wife and their five children gathered in their living room to pray. A few weeks later, his pastor asked him to become the parish groundskeeper, a job he has been at ever since.

“It was the Lord’s pattern for our lives,” declared Maureen. “And to think that this wonderful journey of mission all came out of adversity, out of prayer and thanks to a priest who helped us out.”

“God has had a beautiful plan for our lives,” she stressed.

Born in Scotland, Maureen grew up in a strong Catholic family. As a child, she often thought about becoming a missionary. All that changed when she emigrated to Massachusetts in the early 1960s. A teacher by profession, she found a job teaching at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Quincy where she met Dick who was a parishioner at Sacred Heart at the time.

“The Lord blessed us with the gift of love,” she said with a smile. The couple was married at St. Ann’s, Dick’s childhood parish, and they continued to worship there.

“All that time, the Lord was not sending Maureen to India, but sending her here to me, and to our children,” said Dick.

Both Dick and Maureen have been active members of St. Ann’s throughout their 41 years of marriage.

In addition to his gardening, Dick participates in a men’s eucharistic adoration group.

In the past, Maureen taught religious education and served as a lector and an extraordinary minister of Communion -- a service she holds dear to her heart. However, in recent years, Maureen, 75, decided to “slow down” and spend more time at home.

It was at that same time that Sister Patricia Boyle, CSJ, pastoral associate at St. Ann’s, began a new children’s ministry and asked Maureen to get involved. For the past three years, Maureen has been part of a team of lay presiders who hold a monthly Liturgy of the Word with the parish children.

One Sunday a month the lay presiders, eight people in all, take the parish children and their parents to the church’s lower chapel and proclaim the readings of the day. They then help the children to understand what the readings mean, and ask them to explain what they have heard.

“I cannot put into words what I have received with these children,” she said. “They have such beautiful and simple words -- and that is exactly what Jesus wants to tell us.”

Reflecting on their lives, Maureen pensively added, “I am very joyful about our faith and about the fact that we live out our faith.”

“It has been a beautiful life,” she said.