Saturday, August 04, 2001

Priest looked up to Murphy

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CRESTVIEW HILLS — The Rev. Ron Ketteler knew Monsignor John Francis Murphy as a skilled educator and as a mentor, and he recognized the former Thomas More College president as an education visionary.

        Father Ketteler, chairman of humanities and head of the theology department at Thomas More, on Friday recalled his long association with Monsignor Murphy, especially their five years at St. Agnes Church in Fort Wright.

        “I was a priest in residence at St. Agnes when he was the pastor,” Father Ketteler said. “I had known Monsignor Murphy since I was ordained, but he really became my mentor during those five years at St. Agnes. At his 50th anniversary (as a priest), I told him those were my best five years.”

        Monsignor Murphy, 78, was killed Wednesday in an auto accident on Ky. 9 in Bracken County.

        He was chief executive and then president of Thomas More College from 1951 to 1971, when he became vice president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

        The college had been Villa Madonna College in Covington. The monsignor brought the school through accreditation, worked to change the name to Thomas Moreand was in charge of the move toCrestview Hills in 1968, Father Ketteler said.

        Father Ketteler didn't begin teaching at Thomas More until 1982, but he was well aware of Monsignor Murphy's influence.

        “He did a lot of work while he was at Thomas More, guiding the school as it grew,” he said. “He could be very demanding of the people who worked for him, but he was a real leader.

        “Once you got to know him, in his pastoral role, he was a very sensitive pastor,” Father Ketteler added.

        Transferral of the Dead ceremony is 4 p.m. Monday at St. Agnes Church, 1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, followed by visitation until 8.Mass of Christian Burial is at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Agnes. Burial is at Calvary Cemetery, Lexington.

        Memorials to Priests Retirement Fund, Diocese of Covington, 1417 Richwood Road., Walton, KY, 41094-9535, or Thomas More College, 333 Thomas More Parkway, Crestview Hills, KY, 41017-3495.


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