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Turn to Jesus (Article)

God’s Gift through Human Hands
Fr. Scott Murphy, LC (United States)

Fr. Scott Murphy, LC (United States)
Fr. Scott Murphy, LC (United States)

12:48 A.M. Before me lay the great decision that every 16 year old has had to face at some moment. Do I set the sleep timer or just turn off the T.V. and go to sleep? The inner tension built until at last a twitching finger pressed a red button, and left me lying on the couch, in silence. At that moment, the door of my mind swung open, and that pesky White Dove, the Holy Spirit, came flying in. The disconcerting conversation I had held with Fr. Thomas and Br. Peter just a few days before, now rang loudly in my silence-filled ears.

I can still see the scene as if it happened yesterday. Just a few days before, I had spoken with Fr. Thomas and Br. Peter about the insistent questions that were in my heart. We had agreed that making a visit to Immaculate Conception Apostolic School—the Legionaries’ high school seminary—was an important step in answering those questions. As the time approached for me to make my visit, I got cold feet, and when Br. Peter called I told him I was unsure about it. I will never forget his last comment, as we were about to hang up:

“Christ has been so generous with you. You have to be generous with Christ!”

I rolled to my side and shut my eyes but Br. Peter’s fire-filled voice made sleep impossible. I told myself, “Just face this like a man. Make a coherent decision and move forward.” Taking my stance on the edge of my mental diving board, I tossed aside the heavy chains of flimsy excuses and launched my will into the grace filled freedom of a yes. “O.K., I will go!”


This experience was a major turning point in the early stages of my priestly journey. Of course, there were other important moments of preparation leading up to this decisive step. I could never be sufficiently grateful to my parents who raised me in the Faith and made the necessary sacrifices to send me to Catholic grade school and middle school. Teachers like Sheila Mattingly at St. Francis Elementary School and later Mary Gardner at St. Augustine left their mark on my soul with their patient dedication. They prepared me well to receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation, which opened my heart to reach a milestone in my vocation discernment. After a Marian pilgrimage with a group organized by my best friend’s mom, Phyllis Daugherty, I began to go to daily Mass. This closeness to Christ in the Eucharist made the question come up in my heart: “Does God want me to be a priest?”

New Ideas into Action

However, at 14 years old, my mom assured me that even if I knew for sure that God was calling me, there was nothing I could do but wait and pray. After a couple of years passed, the Legionaries of Christ showed up, and the waiting ended. They
Fr. Scott serves at the Christmas Eve Mass, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
Fr. Scott serves at the Christmas Eve Mass, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
visited a youth group I was attending as part of my commitment at Confirmation to continue my Catholic education. That was the first time I had heard of the Legionaries of Christ—or of a high-school seminary.

Just three months later, I found myself in a van with several other guys my age making the long 14-hour drive from Loretto, Kentucky, to Cheshire, Connecticut. (At that time, the school’s younger students were housed in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, whereas the older students were housed alongside the novices and students of the humanities in Connecticut.) Little did I know that another landmark “Holy Spirit moment” lurked just around the corner. My five-day visit to the high school made a great impression on me. In that incredible environment of charity and prayer, Christ’s simple yet powerful call came through loud and clear.

Making the Leap

In a visit to the chapel with my eyes fixed on the Tabernacle and my heart full of joy, I knew this was the place. Christ was calling me to be a priest as a Legionary of Christ.

Leaving home at 16 years old is complicated, especially for a country hick who never dreamed of living anywhere further away from home than the tri-county area. God certainly has a sense of humor. When I entered novitiate, I did not move across the hall to the novitiate wing, as I expected. Instead, I moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Dublin, Ireland. There, once again, I found that the comfort of the Tabernacle made me feel at home.

Leaving Loved Ones Behind?

Many times I wondered about my duties as a big brother, leaving behind three little siblings and an older sister in Kentucky. I soon learned that God knows what he is doing. I vividly recall visiting my family halfway through my year at the Apostolic School. I stepped in the door to find, not only a dog, but a dog inside our house. “Dad!” I exclaimed. “What is going on? You never let us have a dog and much less a house dog.” My mom replied, “When you left home, you left a big hole in the family and so we had to fill it in with something.” Of course—as I am sure my mom now understands even more—when a young man leaves his home to follow a priestly vocation, his place is filled by Jesus Christ himself. Among the countless blessings my family has received, the fact that my parents and four siblings all live the Catholic Faith well certainly stands out, along with the beautiful marriages of both my sisters.

Countless friends have helped me along this great priestly journey. Getting to know many of the Legion’s supporters has taught me that a priestly vocation is the fruit of the effort and love of many people. I carry in my heart a huge photo album full of pictures of those who are part of my priestly mission. Every day, I place that album of my heart on my kneeler in my morning prayer. I await the day when I can place it on the altar where I celebrate Mass. I will never be able to thank my friends enough, but I think we all give thanks to Christ for helping me discover and protect this pearl of great price.

Fr. Scott Murphy was born in 1979 and grew up in Loretto, Kentucky. He studied at Marion County High School in Lebanon, KY, until he joined the Legionaries’ high school seminary. In 1996, he entered the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. He was a youth minister for three years in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Saskatchewan. He obtained his licentiate in philosophy and his bachelors in theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College. He currently serves as a youth minister in the Ohio Valley.

The vocation stories of the Legionaries of Christ who were ordained on December 12, 2009 have been published in the book "I Call You Friends". During this Year for Priests, let us pray for all priests, so that their

self-giving to God and to people will bear abundant fruits of grace and blessings.


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