Sister John Emmanuel Murphy
1923 – 2016
Born: 18th November 1923
Entered Religious Life: 5th October 1964
Died: 26th February 2016
Address given by Sr Rita Dawson, Provincial Leader, at the funeral of Sr John Emmanuel in Hackney
Sr John Emmanuel was born in Terenure, Dublin and Christened Elizabeth Murphy. She was the second eldest of six children born to Elizabeth and Robert Patrick Murphy.
Her eldest sister, Rita, has died but the rest of the family are growing older (dis)gracefully. Her brother Daniel, and sisters Veronica and Stella live in Dublin and Imelda in USA. Her brother Daniel would have liked to be here today but is unable for the travel. However, his wife Chrissy and daughter Margaret are here.
Sr John was educated by the Sisters of Charity at Milltown Primary School and then at Mountjoy Street. She joined the Children of Mary Sodality at an early age and began to help Sr Teresa Emmanuel in the evenings and at week-ends helping to prepare clothing or meals for the local poor people.
When she began to discuss entering with the Sisters, her mother said ‘you may as well, it will save shoe leather as you spend so much time with them already’.
It was in 1964 that Sr John eventually entered Mount St Anne’s, Milltown at the age of 41.
When I was thinking of entering myself, my younger brother said “why don’t you wait until you are at least 40 then no-one would mind you going”!!
It is easy to understand her joyful surprise when Sr Theresa Anthony gave her Emmanuel as her second name. After a short time in Ireland Sr John was transferred to the English/Scottish Province where she has ministered for the rest of her life.
Sr John Emmanuel was missioned in Clydebank, Airdrie, Rock Ferry, Hammersmith, Bristol, Basildon and finally retired in Hackney.
Her main work was with the Catholic Children’s Society, a ministry she found most fulfilling and worthwhile. Her first retirement brought her to Parish life where she was mostly engaged as a Catechist, another work close to her heart.
Sr John Emmanuel loved getting out for a drive and was looking forward to some spring and summer drives with Sr Jackie.
She loved doing embroidery and enjoyed reading.
She was in many ways a recluse, a very quiet and dignified lady. I often thought she should have been a Carmelite Sister.
When I was reviewing Sr John Emmanuel’s Advance Care Plan, the first thing she had written under Special Requests was “will you please make sure I am dead!” “And I do not wish to be viewed in the coffin”. This was her personal wish and we must always respect this.
She had chosen her own hymns and readings, which you have heard today.
It was Sr John Emmanuel’s greatest wish to remain in the Convent – she refused to go to hospital – and it was wonderful she had her wish and died peacefully in her own room with the support of the Palliative Care team from the Hospice. Our thanks to them, also Sr Helena and all the staff on the Care floor. We are extremely grateful to them for taking such wonderful care of our Sisters.
We all know our faith encourages us to have the confidence and belief that we are all on a journey and when the Lord calls we believe he will say to us:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your Father’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21
This is where we are assured Sr John Emmanuel is today.
May she now Rest in Peace