Sister Francis Virginia Murphy

We are placed in this little corner of the world like cinders beneath the ashes,
to ignite the fire of divine love in the hearts of those we meet”


I grew up in Dedham, Mass. until I was seven, and then in Allston, Mass, as the second child of eight siblings, two of whom were twin girls. The twins passed away from whooping cough at four and five months old. My mother and dad were devout Catholics who lived the wonderful values they taught us.

When I was 12 years of age my mother passed away quite suddenly. God blessed us with a loving Dad who decided not to separate us but kept our family together so we would grow up knowing and being close to one another. My sister and I cared for our two little sisters (16 months and four years old when my mother died) and we really loved being with them all the time. The two boys, 11 and eight years old were pretty much independent then and my Dad had special care of them.

As an employee of the telephone company, my Dad’s territory encompassed West Broadway and the Saints Peter and Paul Convent (later Cardinal Cushing). Being on West Broadway brought my Dad to the convent when telephones needed repair etc. He was inspired by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, specifically Sister Eleanor Joseph Delaney, so when it came time for me to apply to high schools it was understandable that I ended up at Saints Peter and Paul High School. There I had my first encounters with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur–my elementary education was with the Sisters of St. Joseph. I loved my teachers and my earlier desire to become a religious surfaced again. I was especially inspired by Sister Joseph Marie (Sister Rita Egan).

After struggling to discern which congregation to enter, I visited my beloved fourth grade teacher, Sister Sarah, SSJ, but she was not at home. I thought of nursing as a ministry and entering with the Franciscan Sisters at St. Elizabeth Hospital. When I told my senior high school teacher, Sister Julia Immaculata, she responded: “You belong to us.” I took this as God’s call to Notre Dame and for 75 years I have thanked God for my vocation to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. I entered the congregation in 1947.

My first mission was a year teaching kindergarten. I was situated in a hallway and the little people were seated at tables. I didn’t understand why so many of them were left-handed!! (It was a case of some just copying the hand movements of those across from them!!)

I cannot state a ministry that meant the most to me because each was dealing with people. Bringing God’s goodness to those I taught, counseled, prayed with, and listened to has been an overwhelming blessing in my life. However, my ministry with pregnant teens who struggled to discern having their babies adopted or keeping them was exceptionally both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Memories of being with them continue to nourish my trust in our loving God.

A vocation to religious life is definitely a call from God and filled with the most beautiful moments of joy and love of others with many humorous surprises and with times of deep, unexplained peace. If answered, we have a God of incomprehensible fidelity who is with us throughout whatever challenges and difficulties we encounter. However, there are more blessings than challenges for sure. It is the most wonderful vocation of all – in my opinion!!

At this time of Jubilee I feel deep gratitude for the wonderful people God has placed in my life. Some have challenged me into growth and others have loved me into a transformation of faith, deepening spirituality, and closeness to a loving God. I am grateful for the present, knowing the best is yet to come!