On Sunday 29th June our former Parish Priest, Fr Gerry Murphy, celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. It was a testament to the impact that he had on St Alban’s and Oakwood during his 10 years here, that so many of us made the journey over to his present parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Bulwell to celebrate with him and extend our good wishes.
The Church was packed with well over 400 well-wishers, including Fr Gerry’s 91 year old mother, Esther, who he paid a moving tribute to, and presented with a bouquet of lilies as a thank you for all her encouragement and support over the years. The family theme was continued with Fr Gerry’s sister, Rosaleen, and brother-in-law, Colin, reading for us.
The Deacon, Rev Martyn Swaby, gave a brief but amusing homily – he told us he was under strict instructions to preach for a maximum of 3 minutes! A spokesperson from each of Fr Gerry’s former parishes then gave a snapshot of their experiences of church life under his leadership – the word ‘delegation’ came up a lot! There was clearly great affection for Fr Gerry from all the speakers as they shared how he had inspired and empowered the laity to take on a more active role and use their creativity. Nancy Gallyot from St Patrick’s in Leicester had even written an acrostic poem using his name to celebrate his qualities. Anne Kearney talked about Fr Gerry’s time at Chaddesden including the momentous physical transformation in St Alban’s church after the renovations.
Children played an important part in the service, with the St Margaret Clitherow School choir singing the Psalm and a liturgical mime after Communion from children at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour School. The Children’s Liturgy group presented Fr Gerry with a lovely card they had made.
The music was excellent, and included the Zimbabwean community singing a traditional hymn during the offertory.
The service lasted nearly 2 hours – practically a record for a local parish Mass but the time passed so quickly the congregation hadn’t noticed. Fr Gerry was visibly moved by the occasion, recalling his mentors who have had such an impact on his ministry, and seemed genuinely surprised that so many of us had made the effort to share in this special day with him.
Following the Mass a scrumptious buffet was laid on in the School – including 3 congratulations cakes!
We wish Fr Gerry well as he continues to be faithful to his calling, and ask that you keep him in your prayers.