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Former Superior General of Columbans dies in Hong Kong

Father Tommy Murphy, SSC (Photo supplied)

An Irish priest who worked in several Asian countries, including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, died on January 6 at the Columban House in Kowloon.

He had been ill for some time.

The death of Father Tommy Murphy, a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, commonly known as the Columbans, occurred in Hong Kong.

News of his death "came as a shock to the Columbans and his many friends," said a press note from the Columbans.

He was born in Castlebar, a county town in County Mayo, Ireland.

Ordained in 1974, Murphy was first appointed to Korea. When a new mission was opened in Taiwan in 1979, Murphy was part of the first team to go there.

He also worked in Ireland, becoming the director of the region there. From 2006–2012, he was Superior General of the Columbans when the General Council moved from Dublin, Ireland, to Hong Kong. Once he finished his term as Superior General, he worked in China until his untimely death.

Father Murphy's many responsibilities included serving as the executive secretary of the laity commission of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences.

He worked in South Korea and Taiwan, where he established a childcare facility for kids with mental disabilities while serving as the parish priest of St. Michael Church in Taoyuan. He also served as the China Mission Unit's coordinator for vocations.

He provided spiritual guidance to Hong Kong-based prayer groups, including the World Community for Christian Meditation and students at Beijing's national seminary.

He served the English population there for a while as the assistant parish priest at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. "We are deeply grateful for his life of faithful commitment and service to others; his loss will be greatly felt in many parts of the world. May he RIP, and we pray for consolation for all his family, the Columban family, and all his friends," says the press statement.

The congregation expresses its condolences to his brothers Michael in Castlebar and Padraig in Swords, sister-in-law Anna, nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.

On the condolence sections of the death announcements website,, many sincere tributes are being offered to the deceased.

According to one statement, he showed his inherent sense of humor while also being deeply committed to his purpose and providing for those in need.

"His presence and consistent contribution over the years benefited the world he lived in."

Another person said he was such a lovely man, with wonderful company and a man of great compassion and understanding.

"A beautiful, friendly man who was always a joy to meet. To have known him was an honor," read another obituary.

Funeral Mass and Cremation will take place in Hong Kong. Memorial Mass will take place in the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar, next Saturday (January 14th) at 12 noon.

Columban Mass and Burial will take place at a later date.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.