Sister Claire Murphy

“I treasure the variety of experiences I have had with peoples of so many different cultures – in California with Japanese & Americans; in Minnesota with native Americans of the Ojibwa tribe; in Hawaii, with native Hawaiians and many Asian cultures; in Likiep and Majuro with Marshallese; and in Africa with Kenyans.”

Helen Rita Murphy of Cambridge, MA graduated from St. John’s High School in 1940 and attended Burrough’s Business College in Boston before joining Maryknoll in 1941. She received the religious name of Sister Claire and made her first profession of vows in 1944.

Presently a retired but very active member of her congregation at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, Sister Claire was first assigned to St. Xavier’s Parish, Los Angeles, where Maryknoll served primarily Japanese people; then Mountain View, CA, where she was on the kitchen staff of the Maryknoll Fathers Junior Seminary and did religious education with migrant workers.

Sister Claire was then assigned to Hawaii, where she taught at three primary schools for a total of seven years between 1951-1958. In 1959, Sister Claire finished her bachelor’s degree in education at Maryknoll Teachers College and was assigned to the Marshall Islands, 70 square miles of land amidst 772,000 square miles of ocean. She taught in both Likiep and Majuro.

In 1971, Sister Claire worked in the Development Department at Maryknoll for four years, then was assigned to Tanzania. After language study, Sister Claire proved her famed adaptability for ten years in Kenya, East Africa, where she served from 1974-1984. She was on the Religious Education Team for the Diocese of Nakuru. Then, in the Diocese of Kitale, Sister Claire helped in whatever way she was needed in the dispensary, and provided informal education for the African staff. She continued to work with two Maryknoll Sister nurses, “each day accepted as it came.” In Nairobi she administered the World Section house of hospitality for Maryknoll Sisters in Africa for retreats, meetings, medical care, et cetera,

She returned to the U.S. in 1986, where she served in the Secretariat Office, then as hospitality supervisor at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Then, beginning in 2000, she did pastoral work on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Cloquet, MN, until her retirement seven years later, in 2007.


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