1855 – 1917 (February 19)
Nicholas John Murphy, one of sixteen children born to Sylvester Murphy and Mary Smith, was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 15, 1855. He enrolled at Villanova in 1868 and entered the novitiate there on January 22, 1873, professing simple vows on January 25, 1874, and solemn vows on January 26, 1877. In October 1876, he was sent to Troy, N.Y. because of illness. He recovered and was ordained to the priesthood at Saint Joseph Seminary, Troy, N.Y., by Bishop Goesbriand of Burlington, VT, on December 22, 1877.
Father Murphy served at Saint Mary's Parish, Lawrence, Massachusetts, Saint John’s Parish, Schaghticoke, N.Y. and, from 1890 until 1899, was pastor of Old Saint Augustine in Philadelphia. In April 1894, he established a monthly magazine called Our Lady of Good Counsel, a devotional publication intended to serve primarily the members of the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a religious society that he had initiated and promoted widely, with a membership of about 10,000. Saint Augustine’s Good Counsel Shrine was also constructed by Father Murphy. He became prior and pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Staten Island, N.Y., and president of Augustinian Academy there. On September 1, 1904, he was designated by the Secretary of the Navy as navy chaplain of US vessels at Staten Island Station. The Order awarded him the degree of Bachelor of Theology on May 3, 1908. On December 14, 1910 he was appointed prior and rector of the Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in the Bronx and, in the Provincial Chapter of June 1914, he was elected Prior Provincial.
Father Murphy died suddenly at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Bronx, on February 19, 1917, the first Prior Provincial to die in office.
On Thursday, February 22, a Requiem Mass was offered at the Bronx church by Father Charles M. Driscoll, who now assumed the role of Vicar Provincial. Father Edward Dohan, O.S.A. president of Villanova, preached the eulogy, and John Cardinal Farley performed the rite of absolution over the body. The following day, a Pontifical Requiem Mass was celebrated at Villanova by Bishop John McCort, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia. Father Edward Dohan once again preached the eulogy.
Father Murphy was buried in the Community Cemetery at Villanova.