Celebrating a Life – Sister Veronica Murphy

Julia Murphy (known as Cissie in her family) was born in Kenmare on 23rd March 1929, to Daniel Murphy and Julia O’Sullivan. Cissie was the third daughter in a family of six. Margaret and Joan being her older sisters, Mary, Michael and Danny, her younger siblings. After her parents died, Cissie entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth, in London on 23rd May, 1947, aged 18. Sr Veronica of the Cross as she was now known, was Professed on 2nd February 1949. In 1952 she came to South Africa, and made her Final Vows in the newly built Pretoria Nazareth House on 2nd February 1955. In 1956, Sr Veronica was transferred to Kimberley where she cared for the frail elderly and was also the convent sacristan. After a few more years in both Johannesburg and Pretoria, she returned to Kimberley in 1969 as Sister Superior. In 1973 she was appointed Superior in Johannesburg. In 1976, Sr Veronica’s greatest wish was granted when she was transferred to Harare in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), to train for general nursing. She won the top award for being the best student. However, her years of nursing & caring for the elderly were not to be for long. Sr Veronica always had strong leadership qualities, and in 1982 she was again appointed Superior of Nazareth House Johannesburg and then Port Elizabeth in 1987. n 1993 she became Regional Superior of the African Region and was a great support to all the Sisters. Her next appointment in 2000 was as Superior again, this time in Cape Town. After a short spell in Zimbabwe mentoring and teaching our candidates, and another term as Superior in Cape Town, Sr Veronica moved to Johannesburg in semi-retirement. On 6th March, Sister Veronica fell in her bedroom and was hospitalised with a fractured femur.

After surgery she became very weak and was transferred to ICU as her condition deteriorated. She received the Last Sacraments, and the Sisters visited her daily and prayed with her, hoping that she could be discharged and receive palliative care at Nazareth House. Sadly, it was not to be and on 16th March, Sr Veronica of the Cross gently breathed her last and gave her soul back to God, as her Sisters sat beside her bed, praying for her. The funeral took place on 24th March, just one day after her 92nd birthday, with Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI officiating. Due to Covid restrictions attendance was limited, and Sr Veronica was laid to rest in West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg in our Sisters’ plot. Sr Veronica has left the Sisters a great legacy of an example of true religious life, commitment and dedication. she will be remembered for her warmth and generosity, her commitment to humanity, her unflagging optimism, her sense of humour, and her big heart. No matter how busy the days were for her, she always found time to spend an extra few minutes in the chapel. She certainly lived her vocation with great joy, compassion, patience and love. Go well, dear Sr Veronica and may you reap the beautiful harvest that has been prepared for you in the Kingdom of God.

Sister Veronica Murphy

23 March 1929 – 16 March 2021

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