In Memoriam: Brother Richard Tobias Murphy

Brother Richard Tobias Murphy, CFX (Brother Tobias) 1934 - 2017

Richard passed away peacefully on April 4th in the early afternoon. As already mentioned Brothers John Kerr, Pat Pennell, Henry Marino, Bob Green and Robin Rowell were blessed to be present with Richard at the end.

Gentleness, humble brilliance, simple faith, deep care, and empathy for others are the signature gifts that Richard so generously offered to everyone he met during his life’s journey. Richard grew up in Brooklyn with Brother Henry Marino as a childhood neighbor and friend. Richard graduated from Saint Michael’s Diocesan High School in 1952, and entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in Fort Monroe, Virginia in September of the same year. He took “Tobias” as his religious name. Richard distinguished himself in his studies at Catholic University earning his BA in Physics Summa cum Laude in 1958.

Richard carried out the Church's mission of evangelization through his enthusiastic participation in the Congregation's ministry of education that took him to his first assignment at Flaget Memorial High School in Louisville in 1958. There he taught Math and served as Department Chair. In 1960, he was transferred to Mount Saint Joseph’s in Baltimore. Even today graduates who had Tobias speak of him with both admiration and affection. Richard knew the secrets of an outstanding teacher. He used those secrets to win the students over. He related to them as people and in doing so showed them how to build enduring relationships among themselves. Richard knew how to challenge his students while building their confidence. Simply put, he knew how to teach.

Richard was encouraged early in his ministry to seek graduate studies. He earned his MS in Mathematics from Notre Dame in 1967 then went on to Princeton University where he earned his doctorate in educational psychology in 1972. Richard was a researcher by temperament and talent. He never rushed a decision and needed as much information as possible to consider all facets of a problem. Anyone who worked closely with Richard knew that he sought “right and sharp question.” Richard’s ability to see both sides of an issue sometimes worked against him when the exigencies of administrative decision required a prompt response.  

Go then, to all peoples everywhere
And make them my disciples. Mt. 28:19

Richard's gifts were evident in in his work of over forty years for Educational Testing Services. In this work he helped organizations to understand the best ways to teach and help the learner. Richard helped develop reading series for Arab children in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey, and Bangladesh. Richard's contribution to the  educational gains of these cultures is immeasurable. Few of us knew his impact. Yet, as was the case of the students at Flaget and the Mount, Richard's impact on the people he worked with in these countries is still deeply cherished and warmly remembered. He developed relationships with Jordanians, Turks, Bengalis that lasted long after his projects were completed. His influence goes beyond his work largely due to his gift of recognizing the faith and beliefs of other people. Richard’s empathy and compassion allowed him to enter the world of other people as their brother and friend.

On several visits to Xaverian House, I saw Richard's progressive decline. He was suffering from dementia as a result of vascular degeneration of the brain. One conference with Richard I will never forget. He was an emotional person. He was struggling to communicate what he wanted to tell. He then showed me a list of the names of countries I mentioned above and said, "The Brothers tell me I worked in these place." And crying he said, "I can't remember ever being there."

Today Richard is still "there" with the many people who benefited from his gifts. Today Richard is still "here" with us, his brothers, who benefitted from his gifts. He is with all to whom he manifested God’s love. He is with us in the mystery of the Resurrection which we are about to celebrate as a Church.

May Richard experience the peace Christ promises to all those who have left everything for the sake of the kingdom and who have remained meek and humble of heart in doing so. Let's thank God for our Brother Richard. He showed us the face of Christ.

In the Risen Lord,

Ed

Brother Edward Driscoll, CFX

General Superior