Thomas Joseph Murphy

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The Most Reverend

Thomas Joseph Murphy
Archbishop of Seattle
InstalledAugust 21, 1991
Term endedJune 26, 1997
PredecessorRaymond Hunthausen
SuccessorAlexander Joseph Brunett
Other postsBishop of Great Falls-Billings (1978–1987)
Coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle (1987–1991)
OrdinationApril 12, 1958
ConsecrationAugust 21, 1978
Personal details
BornOctober 3, 1932
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJune 26, 1997(1997-06-26) (aged 64)
Seattle, Washington
BuriedSt. James Cathedral
Seattle, Washington
ResidenceConnolly House
First Hill, Seattle

Thomas Joseph Murphy (October 3, 1932 – June 26, 1997) was an American bishop in the Catholic Church who served as Bishop of Great Falls from 1978–1987, Coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle from 1987–1991, and Archbishop of Seattle from 1991 until his death.[1]


Born in Chicago, Illinois, Murphy attended Mundelein Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago by Cardinal Samuel Stritch in 1958. In 1973, John Cardinal Cody, Archbishop of Chicago, appointed Father Murphy rector of the seminary.[2]

Episcopal career[edit]

In 1978, he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and was consecrated bishop later that year.[3] In 1979, he addressed the National Catholic Education Association vocations to the priesthood and their on the importance for the local church.[2]

On May 26, 1987, Murphy was appointed coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle with immediate right of succession to Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Murphy's appointment came after a series of controversies surrounding Hunthausen which included an apostolic visitation to the archdiocese ordered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 1985, the Vatican appointed Donald Wuerl as auxiliary bishop of Seattle, with authority to overrule Archbishop Hunthausen in several important areas.[4] The Vatican eventually removed Wuerl from his post and installed Murphy as a coadjutor with less immediate authority.[4]

Murphy became Archbishop of Seattle upon Hunthausen's retirement on August 21, 1991. As archbishop, he traveled extensively to parishes around the archdiocese and was an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in the archdiocese. He oversaw an extensive renovation of St. James Cathedral, which was completed in 1994. Under Murphy's administration the archdiocese saw an increase in registered Catholics, and an increase in outreach and ministries for women, various ethnic groups, and homosexuals.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Archbishop Murphy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 1996 and had been undergoing chemotherapy when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on June 26, 1997.[5] He is interred in the Episcopal Crypt beneath the main altar of St. James Cathedral.

In 1999, Holy Cross High School, a Catholic school in Everett, Washington, was renamed Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy High School in Murphy's honor.[2] In 2000, a new organ built in the apse of St. James Cathedral was named the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Millennium Organ.

The "Archbishop Thomas J Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award" is named in his honor.[6]


  1. ^ "Archbishop Thomas Joseph Murphy". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.[self-published source]
  2. ^ a b c "Archbishop Thoms J. Murphy", University of Saint Mary of the Lake
  3. ^ The Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Archive
  4. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (June 27, 1997). "Thomas Murphy, Archbishop Of Seattle Since '91, Dies at 64". New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Macdonald, Sally; Bartley, Nancy (June 27, 1997). "Murphy: Passed Along His Faith And Gave Tirelessly Of Himself -- Archbishop Gave His Attention To Priests, The Poor, Teens". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  6. ^ "Archbishop Thomas J Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award", Blessed Sacrament Church, Wichita, Kansas

External links[edit]

  • [1] - official site
  • [2]-interactive timeline of his life
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Eldon Bernard Schuster
Bishop of Great Falls-Billings
1978 – 1987
Succeeded by
Anthony Michael Milone
Preceded by
Raymond Hunthausen
Archbishop of Seattle
1991 – 1997
Succeeded by
Alexander Joseph Brunett