I can still see him standing in the hallway of the rectory, cigarette in hand and perfectly dressed with Clark Kent glasses. It was my first impression of someone who was to become a major influence in my life.I hardly knew Jack Murphy in the seminary because we traveled in different circles. I tried to float from one diverse group to the next but spent most of my free time in the intelligent jock circle. I always loved sports as well as the opera and ballet and many of my closest friends were of like minds. Jack’s primary group never participated in extramural sports and my overall opinion was that it was a closed circle and difficult to enter. In hindsight I was dead wrong at least about Jack.
Jack and I were city kids but I thought we had vastly different views of the world and certainly different approaches to ministry, I was fearful that with Gene McCoy leaving I was losing a trusted friend and comrade in arms. John Flanagan was always gracious to me but we were opposite poles regarding almost everything. The pastor viewed me as public enemy #1 and he was shocked that I was not the one transferred. My biggest fear was that I was to become isolated and absent from the friendship and security that every person needs.
Despite my initial fears they evaporated almost overnight and there was a bonding that was hard to believe.Jack’s innocent Irish face gave no hint to the wondrous sense of dry humor and the little boy that could cause raucous mayhem. He had a pervasive humility but I was struck by his steel trap mind and insatiable curiosity. His kindness to others was on duty twenty four seven and he was available without reserve.His laughter was legendary and when I informed him of the dos and don’ts in Holy Trinity he threw back his head and roared. Our life stories to this point were vastly different, and yet in a short period of time we became best friends. When September rolled around and the parish went into high gear we were inseparable.