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William Murphy (Bishop of Saginaw)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Most Reverend
William Francis Murphy
Bishop of Saginaw
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Saginaw
In office February 26, 1938—February 7, 1950
Predecessor none
Successor Stephen Stanislaus Woznicki
Ordination June 13, 1908
Consecration May 17, 1938
Personal details
Born (1885-05-11)May 11, 1885
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Died February 7, 1950(1950-02-07) (aged 64)
Saginaw, Michigan

William Francis Murphy (May 11, 1885 – February 7, 1950) was an American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Bishop of Saginaw, serving between 1938 and his death in 1950.

Early life and education

William Murphy was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to William and Mary (née Gibson) Murphy.[1] His parents were Irish immigrants who came to the United States from County Wexford.[2] One of ten children, Murphy was the youngest child and only son; three of his sisters became nuns.[2] He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Augustine's Church and at Lefevre Institute in his native city.[3]

He made his collegiate studies in Ontario, Canada, at St. Jerome's College in Kitchener and at Assumption College in Sandwich.[1] He was then sent by Bishop John Samuel Foley to study theology in Rome, where he attended the Pontifical North American College and the Urban College of Propaganda.[1] He earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Urban College in 1908, and a Licentiate of Canon Law from the Pontifical Athenaeum S. Apollinare in 1909.[1]


On June 13, 1908, Murphy was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Pietro Respighi at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.[4] He celebrated his first Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter.[2] Upon his return to Michigan in 1910, he served as a curate at St. Thomas Church in Ann Arbor for two years.[1] He then served at Holy Cross Church in Marine City (1912–1919) and SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Detroit (1919–1921) before becoming the founding pastor of St. David Church.[5]

In addition to his pastoral duties, Murphy served as master of ceremonies to Bishop Michael Gallagher.[2] He was raised to the rank of a Domestic Prelate in July 1934.[1] He also served as a member of the Michigan Historical Commission, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Detroit in 1930.[5] In 1937, Archbishop Edward Mooney named him censor of Father Charles Coughlin, and Murphy served as intermediary between Mooney and Coughlin in negotiations about Coughlin's return to radio.[6]


On February 26, 1938, Murphy was appointed the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Saginaw by Pope Pius XI.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 17 from Archbishop Mooney, with Bishops John A. Duffy and Joseph C. Plagens serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.[4] He selected as his episcopal motto: Agenda ademple (Latin: "To Fulfill One's Duties").[3]

During his administration, Murphy established offices of Catholic Charities in Saginaw, Bay City, Alpena, and Bad Axe, and the Diocese of Saginaw gained a widespread reputation for social and charitable work among the poor.[2] He also organized the Mexican Apostolate to address the spiritual concerns of Catholic migrant workers, and encouraged drives for money, food, and clothing for World War II victims in Europe.[2] During one Christmas message, he said, "Christ began His mission of saving and redeeming the human race by being born in the sqaulor of a stable. He ennobled poverty."[2]

He was a close friend of poet Edgar Guest with whom he often golfed and fished. It was Guest who wrote of Murphy: "A bishop, bass upon his hook, Rod bent and taut line swishing, Without his robe and shepherd's crook Is just a man out fishing."[2]

Murphy died at age 64.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "KINDLY SPIRIT MOTIVATED BISHOP MURPHY". The Saginaw News. 1950-02-07. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29.
  3. ^ a b "MOST REV. WILLIAM F. MURPHY". Roman Catholic Diocese of Saginaw. Archived from the original on 2011-01-08.
  4. ^ a b c "Bishop William Francis Murphy".
  5. ^ a b "BISHOP MURPHY, HEAD OF SAGINAW DIOCESE". The New York Times. 1950-02-08.
  6. ^ Woodcock Tentler, Leslie (1990). Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
None (diocese erected)
Bishop of Saginaw
Succeeded by
Stephen Stanislaus Woznicki
This page was last edited on 3 July 2018, at 06:19
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