By Ivan Pereira
Students and staff of Archbishop Molloy High School were preparing to pay their last respects this week to a man who helped thousands of boys and girls mature into young adults.
Dr. Patrick Murphy, the Briarwood Catholic school's psychologist, died Saturday morning from complications of Crohn's disease, according to Brother James Norton, chairman of Molloy's guidance department. The counselor said the entire school community was deeply saddened by the death of the 65-year-old teacher, who had worked there for more than four decades.
“He was a mentor and a close friend. He was just a fine person,” Norton said.
Murphy's surviving family, including his younger sister, two younger brothers and his 92-year-old mother, asked to have his funeral at the school Wednesday, because they said he spent most of his life there and enjoyed every minute of it.
A graduate of Molloy's class of 1960, Murphy returned to the school six years later as a history teacher. As the years went on, he changed his focus and became one of the school's guidance counselors while studying part time for his doctoral degree in psychology from St. John's University.
During his tenure in the guidance department, Murphy helped initiate several student programs aimed at helping them improve their emotional and mental well-being. Programs like sophomore peer groups and the Something More In Life's Experience, or S.M.I.L.E., group enabled students to have private group conversations with each other and a counselor about their innermost troubles.
“It made them not afraid to talk about counseling issues,” said Norton, who still runs the peer groups. “It made them see that there are other students who are facing the same problems they are.”
Murphy, who never married or had children, kept advising students up until last year when he had an intestinal transplant due to his disease. Despite suffering from an infection, Murphy kept his spirits high and his thoughts on Molloy, according to staff.
“He wanted to be back here in September. His attitude was very positive, but this infection killed him,” Norton said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.