Murphy, Sr. Bridget

Murphy, Sr. Bridget

Nationality: Irish
Congregational Register No. 398
D.O.B. 02.11.1933
First Profession 08.09.1957
Died: 01.02.2004 Aged: 70 years

Mary Bridget (Bridie) Murphy was born and raised in Monmahogue, Tramore, Co. Waterford. She came from a farming family and had three brothers and one sister. Bridie, as she was called then, was educated by the Sisters of Charity in Tramore before going on to technical school, where she undertook a commercial course.  She then worked as a bookkeeper for a local butcher. Bridie joined MMM at the age of 20 and took the name Sr. Mary Brigidine.

Following first profession in 1957, Sr. Brigidine worked in the IMTH accounts department before being assigned to Nigeria in 1959. Her first mission was Ogoja, where she worked with the redoubtable Lily Murphy in the latter’s mission of establishing primary schools in the remote areas of Ogoja Province. Later she relieved Lily as manager of schools when Lily was on leave. Sr. Brigidine also worked as secretary for the Hansen’s disease (leprosy) settlement and maternity hospital. She was then made secretary to Urua Akpan Hospital before returning to Ireland in 1968 to work in the IMTH accounts department once again. She was to return to Ogoja for a further four years in 1970 as secretary and Sister-in-charge. She spent 1975 to 1983 as business administrator, first for Drogheda and then for Winchester, Massachusetts. In 1988 she was assigned to Ganta Leprosy Centre in Liberia.

During Sr. Bridget’s missionary life she was twice in war-torn countries: first in Nigeria during the Biafran War and then in Liberia. Sr. Brigid loved Liberia and the people she served there but it was a dangerous and often traumatic time. She once had to witness the execution of twenty of her Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients who had the misfortune of not belonging to the ruling tribe. On another occasion, she and Sr. Enda Gallagher had to hide in a wardrobe as bullets ripped through the house in Ganta. Finally, she had to escape with Fr. Larry Collins through the swamps of Ganta to cross the border into Guinea. Sr. Bridget left a bit of her heart behind in Liberia. The news of her death brought great sadness to the people of Ganta, where she is still remembered with great affection. A special memorial Mass was celebrated there on 1 March. Sr. Brigid will be praying in heaven that the peace that has finally come will hold in her beloved Liberia.

Sr. Bridget was assigned to Chipini, Malawi, for four years before returning to Beechgrove, where she served as business administrator until her sudden death. She had been in good health and her death came as a great shock. She will be remembered for her conscientiousness, her calm manner, her gentle ways, a beautiful smile and the easy way in which she related to people regardless of nationality or background. She lived as St. Dominick recommended to his monks, to help wherever possible and if unable, to give a kind word.