In Memoriam


Sister Ellen Murphy, OP

(1936-2019)

“We knew Ellen as a Renaissance woman and a leader, who was always ready to build community and to take on any challenge that was given her. She had many talents stuffed in that little tool box of hers. … Ellen led in elegant ways and in simple ways.”

These words began the remarks by Mary “Pidge” Newbauer at Sister Ellen Murphy’s wake service on April 16, 2019. Mary and her husband, John, were longtime friends of Sister Ellen’s.

Sister Ellen Murphy was born on May 26, 1936, in Detroit to Joseph and Cecilia (Kenney) Murphy. Joseph and Cecilia were both born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, to Irish-immigrant parents, and came to Detroit during the Great Depression in search of work.

Early in their married life, the couple discovered they would likely never be able to have children, due to an injury Cecilia had suffered in childhood. “At first she was devastated, but she had a secret weapon unknown to the medical community: strong, lifelong devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of ‘Mother of Perpetual Help,’” Sister Ellen wrote in her autobiography.

One week after Joseph and Cecilia’s tenth wedding anniversary, and six days after Cecilia’s fortieth birthday, Ellen Patricia Murphy came into the world at Detroit’s St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. Because of complications during the birth, she was immediately baptized in the delivery room. She was the couple’s only child.

Read more about Sister Ellen (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

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Avatar  CG 6 months agoReply

Sister Ellen was a wonderful person and principal at St.Catherine in Oak Lawn when I was in school there. She will be greatly missed!

Avatar  Kathi Thieme 6 months agoReply

Sri. Marie Aquino was also known as the penguin. She made such a difference in my life. There was a segment in our reading book about penguins . I wanted to read it so badly that I thought I would burst of she didn't call on me. But she did. It was just about then that I was out of school for over a year with tuberculosis. She was much loved.

Avatar  Sue Farrell 6 months agoReply

So sorry to hear of Sr Ellen’s passing. Lovely lady with a great sense of humor . I remember her describing 7 th graders as brain dead . Use that expression often! Sr. was principall of St Catherine’s while my 4 kids attended and tthey lioved CtF and respected her. Rest In Peace! You have run your race, Ellen!!



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Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 


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