In this week’s blog, Fr Paddy pays tribute to John Murphy from Ballywilliamroe, Bagenalstown who recently passed away.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published  18th August 2010

This week a truly great man passed from this life; beginning a new journey in heaven. John Murphy, Ballywilliamroe, Bagenalstown was an inspirational and wonderful disciple of the Lord. His death comes after an enormous battle with terminal cancer. A battle he resolutely faced with resilience, determination, hope and great faith. Qualities that were indicative of his gentle and profound spirit, throughout a most active and accomplished fifty four years of life.

Getting  to know and love John was a source of great nourishment for me personally. In a time of disillusionment and burden felt by many, John was an icon of hope. His gratitude for his wonderful wife, children and family was greatly felt by him in his final days. Spending time with his family was a priority that he gave earnestly in a generous and most loving fashion.

John for over thirty years personified all that is good in his true vocation as a Secondary School Teacher. Teaching, for John was a way of life. He was a gifted teacher where his subject Geography was taught with enthusiasm and clarity. His students blossomed and achieved tremendous success when his advice was taken on board. John cultivated a personal relationship with all his students. He truly cared for every student that he ever taught. This wonderful dynamic makes John legendary for all those who were privileged to have been taught by this humble and gentle teacher, in the Presentation/De La Salle College, Bagenalstown.

Legends stand out. Legends remain active and alive in the memory of those who are inspired by their dynamic and gifted presence. This is true for John Murphy. As an educator he passionately believed that we can achieve great things when we put a genuine effort into the task in hand.

“To be a genius takes one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration”.

Hard work, real effort, results in growth and success. John’s gifted life has in so many ways produced many generations of young students capable, diligent, confident and successful. John’s genius was something that he generously shared. In doing so, our lives have been enriched and improved by the quality and depth of this great prophet and teacher.

John’s faith was a source of comfort and consolation throughout his life. Christ was alive in the midst of the ordinary for John.  His faith fuelled his immense generosity. He unashamedly gave witness to the power of prayer in his battle with cancer. I remember  John, in the spring pointing to his rosary beads, as he gave witness to his faith in the middle of a Leaving Cert Geography class.

John Murphy increased my faith in Jesus Christ. His simplicity mirrored the “Good Teacher”, Jesus of Nazareth. May his gentle and kind soul be rewarded with life eternal. Every legend’s mission continues. In this regard, may the Lord mind and protect our young students who soon return to school. Wherever we find ourselves, may we like John, appreciate the gift of everyday and live life to the full. John has

“fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith”