Sister Mary Perpetua

Mary Emily Murphy

1885 - 1931
Sister Mary Perpetua Murphy

When the application for entrance into our Novitiate of Miss May Emily Murphy of Napanee was received, the members of the Council were not long in coming to a favourable decision as to her admission, as it was accompanied by a recommendation from her pastor, Rev. T.P. O’Connor, and also the applicant stated that she was a sister of our Sister Mary Imelda. This latter was a recommendation in itself in a way, for the virtues and qualifications of our Sister were already recognized by the Community.

She came as a bright interesting young lady, then twenty-eight years of age, and was admitted into our Novitiate on April 13, 1912.

Giving satisfaction to her Mistress and the officers with whom she came in contact, she was advanced to the reception of the Holy Habit on April 30, 1913, and a year later to Holy Profession on May 25, 1914.

After Profession she was sent to St. Francis’ Hospital, Smiths Falls, to study, and receive training for a nurse.

Passing successfully her time of probation, and being gifted with a pleasing manner and address, with intelligence and wise judgment, she bid fair promise to be a skilful nurse, and to be an acquisition to the hospital for many long years.

But how little we know of the future. Sister Mary Perpetua inherited a weak constitution, which began to be apparent after but a few years’ service.

She had many very serious attacks of illness, would be incapacitated for several days, some times, weeks, but after her recovery she would resume her duties with the old time interest and alacrity.

She was appointed Second Assistant to the Superior in 1927, and was also Superintendent of the Nurses. Suffering as she was, this office was often very trying to her.

She was confined to her bed for the last six months or more of her life. What she suffered during this period, God alone knows. As one doctor said, who had been called in for consultation, “She had not a sound organ in her body”. So swollen and distended did she become, that she was unnatural. One would scarcely recognize a familiar feature. Yet with all she remained quite conscious, patient and resigned.

She received the last Sacraments several times during her illness. On Thursday August 6th, taking a bad turn, the pastor, Rev. J.T. Hanly was called, the Sisters were assembled. She was again anointed. Life seemed almost extinct, when suddenly she opened her eyes, and expressed surprise to see so many present. She told them there was no cause for anxiety, as she was not dying. However, the following night, on Friday August 7, 1931, after midnight, her spirit took its flight without giving any warning.

The remains were transferred to the Mother House arriving the same evening.

The funeral Mass, a Solemn Pontifical was celebrated on Saturday Morning at 8 o’clock by His Excellency Most Rev. W.J. O’Brien, assisted by Rev. J. Feeney, Rev. J. G. Hanly, Rev. S. LeSage,  Rev. Dr. Byrne, and Rev. M.J. Brady. There were also present Very Rev. Dean J. Hanley, Rev. Father Murphy and Rev. Brother Michael.

After the Libera His Excellency gave a short discourse. After tendering sympathy to the Relatives and to the Community, he said we would feel the loss of the deceased, but we could also rejoice, for the words of Holy Scripture could be well applied to her, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”.

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