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‘You have to lean into God, his people, and grace’ – A conversation with retiring director of social concerns, Deacon Richard Murphy

On June 30, 2020, during a small Mass at the McRaith Catholic Center (central offices of the Diocese of Owensboro) Deacon Richard Murphy is given a picture of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The Mass was held in the large lower level of the MCC so that participants could be physically spaced apart. COURTESY OF DEACON CHRIS GUTIÉRREZ

Note: The following is edited from an interview with Deacon Richard Murphy on June 24, 2020.

“I started in July 2001… The people of God are the greatest blessing to work here. Both in my work associates and the people that God’s given me to work with as well… they’re full of love and endless energy to serve and they truly are champions of love. If anything got done in this office, it was because of them!

“Most of the time, to be able to do this work, you have to lean into God, his people, and the grace that he provides to get the work done.

“The one thing that stands out in my mind is the one quote from St. Pope Paul VI, ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’ I see justice as the highest form of charity. And that to be able to get through the many aspects of our current crises, we have to learn to walk in the peace of justice.

“Social justice helps us to live the faith a great deal more clearly and purposefully. It calls into question all that we believe and all our connections with God and it’s something that I think, as the years go by, will become more and more important.

“The people are up for it. They need to be encouraged by their leaders to step out and empowered to do so. When they are, surprising results happen.

“I have no doubt whoever will take my place will have the same experience that I did. Every single aspect of their personality is going to be called upon; they’re going to be called upon to collaborate with people across the wide spectrum of the community – some faith believers and some not – but they’ll work together on social justice issues. That’s what social justice does. It calls us past our own theological differences, to help people. And that’s really at the heart of the Gospel: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

“I have no doubt that whoever does this job will be called in that same attitude.”

Elizabeth Wong Barnstead, The Western Kentucky Catholic

Click here to learn more about the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Social Concerns.

Originally printed in the August 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic

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