Biographies

Sister Mary Una Murphy, MM

Born: January 23, 1900
Entered: January 17, 1921
Died: December 31, 1965

Sister Mary Una went to God suddenly at Regina Maris on Friday morning about 10:30. (December 31, 1965)

Sister Mary Una (Bridget Agnes Murphy) was born January 23, 1900 in County Mayo, Ireland, and came to the United States with her family in 1909. The family was a large and devoted one, who had many cherished friends. All were near and dear to Sister Mary Una, whose interest in each one was deep and prayerful. Sister is survived by five sisters, one brother,  and a number of nieces and nephews.

Sister entered Maryknoll on January 17, 1921. She came to us endowed with ability beyond the ordinary in household arts, especially cooking, and food administration. All her life, her God-given talents were unstintingly used in the service of others. Sister’s first assignment was to the Venard, following her Profession in 1923, where she remained three years, organizing the big kitchen at the Maryknoll Fathers Junior Seminary there, planning and preparing menus to strengthen young bodies, and to delight palates as well. Sister returned to the Motherhouse in 1926 to take charge of the kitchen here, and throughout the next eleven years kept a watchful eye on our health, and devoted capable hands near the cooking pots, while exercising good judgment along with ingenuity in Community purchasing.

In 1937 Sister was assigned to St. Paul’s Hospital in Manila, where she quickly earned the respect and affection of both patients and staff with her organizational ability, and with her tasty, intelligently prepared, health-restoring menus. World War II put an end to ordinary activity in the Philippines, and while Sister, with her Irish passport, was not interned, in a special way she was caught up in the anxieties and terrors of those times, under virtual house arrest in the Mountain Province of Baguio.

She endured the usual privations of those days, and suffered the agonies of suspense and anxiety over the fate of the internees. Her’s was also the added responsibility of caring for our dear Sister Mary Hyacinth, and Sister Maria Carmencita, who were far from well. Like St. Joseph, whom Sister revered so much, she knew the problem of making her beloved charges as comfortable as possible in a cave during the early days of liberation. Then, in the long three day’s journey by foot over the mountains as the non-military persons were evacuated, Sister Mary Hyacinth disappeared. What anguish of mind and heart and soul our dear Sister Mary Una knew then, when the search for Sister proved hopeless, and what sober reflection recalled to mind in the succeeding years, are known only to God. The experience left a deep impression on Sister, and the alchemy of simple love and trust engendered in those years, begot an even greater devotion to duty, a strengthening of an already firm and solid faith, and a calm maturing of her uncomplicated love of God and all His creatures. After the war, Sister again supervised the Motherhouse kitchen until 1949, when she went to the Pacific Coast Region – to Monrovia, and in 1955 to Mountain View. She returned to the Motherhouse for medical treatment and decennial in 1956, and since then has acted as dietician and menu consultant at the Motherhouse.

For some time, Sister has been in charge of Regina Maris, several months each year, during retreats and vacations. She was well known and much loved by the people at Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Sister Mary Una was at the helm, when Sister Mary Eunice and her Promoters began their retreat on Thursday evening, December 30, which will be followed by a Workshop. All had begun very happily. Sister Mary Una had planned well and the routine household affairs were moving along in a happy relaxed atmosphere. Father Flaherty, S.J. had given the first two conferences of what promised to be an excellent retreat. The Sisters were making preparation, for Mass at eleven o’clock on Friday morning. Sisters Mary Una, Isabel and Marie Bernard, who were not making the retreat were chatting briefly, as they stood in the small dining room.  Without the slightest warning, Sister Mary Una fell backwards and never regained consciousness. Father was summoned from the next room and gave Sister the last rites.

We all believe it was the way Sister would have liked to go to God – while she was busily and happily engaged in tending to the needs of her Sisters. Her fidelity to duty and particularly to prayer, was always an edification. In preparation for a busy day, Sister Mary Una arranged to rise early and go to Chapel to be sure that her prayers did not suffer from the distractions that might follow.

In her room at Regina Maria, Sister had pinned the following excerpt from the writings of Cardinal Merry del Val. It was placed where Sister had to see it when she turned the light on each morning and off each night. I believe Sister Mary Una made these sentiments her own.

“I have promised with His grace never to begin any action without remembering that He is witness of it – – that He performs it together with me and gives me the means to do it – – never to conclude any without the same thought – offering it to Him as belonging to Him, and in the course of the action, whenever the same thought shall occur, to stop for a moment and renew the desire of pleasing Him.”

That dear Sister Mary Una was well prepared to meet her Divine Spouse with heart and hands full of wonderful returns on the gifts entrusted to her, and on the love bestowed upon her, we have no doubt. Nevertheless we must give her all the benefit of the suffrages prescribed by our Constitutions, and additional prayers, as well. May these help to obtain for Sister Mary Una a speedy entrance into her heavenly home. The Requiem Mass will be sung at the Motherhouse Chapel on Monday, January 3, at 11 o’clock.