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Turn to Jesus (Article)

He Entered My Life With a Boom!
Fr. Thomas Murphy, LC (Canada)

Fr. Thomas Murphy, LC (Canada)
Fr. Thomas Murphy, LC (Canada)

I was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, on March 24, 1979. I am the fifth in a family of ten: nine boys and one girl. I went to Mass every Sunday at St. Ambrose Cathedral, to the dismay of most of the parishioners, since I had a talent for being very noisy and distracting, a trait I shared with the rest of my brothers. I was not particularly religious as a child. My life was the normal life of a boy growing up in the small fishing town of Yarmouth until, of course, the day God came into my life with a bang—or better said, a boom.

I was 16 years old. I was in the 11th grade. It was history class. A friend of mine tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I was doing for Halloween. Since I did not have any plans, he asked me what I thought about putting a bomb on our teacher’s doorstep. I thought it was a great idea and would be fun, so I agreed to be his accomplice. It would be a service to our fellow students. After all, the teacher was a little on the serious side.

After school, Halloween day, we went and bought the necessary material to construct our bomb: a brick, white modeling clay, and some wires. Without entering into the details of police officers, bomb squads from Halifax, and street evacuations, we fulfilled this particular service to our fellow students, but there was a small price to be paid: I had to go to court, and I ended up with 150 hours of community service and a year of probation.

One Week and Then Freedom

I began working my hours off very slowly with various volunteer projects throughout the year, such as cleaning up storage rooms at the hospital or supervising at the YMCA, until one day my mother mentioned to me the possibility of finishing all my hours in one week by going as a counselor to a summer camp that was being run by the Legionaries of Christ. This was a great idea: one week and then freedom. I went to this camp with one goal: getting my hours done. God wanted me to get my hours done too, but he also had something else in mind.

At the end of the camp, I was invited to go down to visit the seminary the Legionaries have in Cheshire, Connecticut. I decided to go. It was partly because some of the other counselors whom I had met and made friends with during the camp were going, and partly because I was curious. Some of the counselors had been talking about the priesthood during the camp in ways I had never thought about before: the priesthood as a tremendous gift from God, a call to heroism, a gift of one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters, a call to bring as many people as possible to come to
Fr. Thomas gives Communion to his sister-in-law on the day of his ordination to the diaconate, June 30, 2009.
Fr. Thomas gives Communion to his sister-in-law on the day of his ordination to the diaconate, June 30, 2009.
know and love Jesus Christ. I was also won over by the authenticity of the Legionaries I had met. I always had the impression—perhaps unfair—that my fellow students at school were not coherent, that they were not really themselves, and that they did almost everything in order to impress others and to make others like them, even if it meant going against their principles. These Legionaries, on the other hand, were simple, honest, joyful, convinced of what they were doing, and not worried about what others thought of them.

A Yes I Have Never Regretted

It was at Cheshire during the evening Rosary on the day we arrived that I made the decision to enter the summer discernment program for Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, a junior high and high school for those who are pursuing a Legionary vocation. I knew that with this decision, I was setting out on a new path with the Lord.

There was no thundering voice from the clouds or lightning bolts or anything like that. It was a very simple thought: “If God might be calling me, I should give it a try.” And that was it. I told the Legionary who was with our group that I wanted to try the program, and a few weeks later I was back in Cheshire.

The summer program was a very beautiful experience. At the end of it, I was asked if I was going to stay. I said yes. It was a hard yes to give. It was hard because I loved my family, and I knew that a yes meant leaving home. It was a hard yes because I knew not everyone back home would agree. It was a hard yes because it is always hard to leave the things you know and are familiar with and head into something you do not know. It was a hard yes, but it was also the greatest yes I ever gave. It was the greatest yes, because I knew deep down that it was what God wanted for me. It was the greatest yes, because I knew that God can never be outdone in generosity and that if I was giving up a lot, it was because God wanted to give me so much more. It is a yes that I have renewed every day. It is a yes I have never regretted.

I certainly feel small before such a tremendous gift of the priesthood, but at the same time I feel a profound peace and confidence in God, knowing that it is the Lord who called me to work in his harvest. I thank God every day for the gift of my priestly vocation.

“And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ—and you will find true life. Amen” (Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s first homily as Pope, Sunday, April 24, 2005).

Fr. Thomas Murphy was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. After studying at Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, at that time located in Cheshire, Connecticut, he entered the Legionaries of Christ’s French-speaking novitiate in Cornwall, Ontario, where he made his first religious profession. He studied liberal arts at the Legionary community in Cheshire, Connecticut, and philosophy in New York, and then served as dean of students at the Apostolic School in Cornwall, Ontario. In 2009, he obtained his bachelors in theology at Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome, and was ordained a deacon in Rome on June 30, 2009.

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



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