Thomas Joseph Murphy

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The Most Reverend

Thomas Joseph Murphy
Archbishop of Seattle
See Seattle
Installed August 21, 1991
Term ended June 26, 1997
Predecessor Raymond Hunthausen
Successor Alexander Joseph Brunett
Other posts Bishop of Great Falls-Billings (1978–1987)
Coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle (1987–1991)
Ordination April 12, 1958
Consecration August 21, 1978
Personal details
Born October 3, 1932
Chicago, Illinois
Died June 26, 1997(1997-06-26) (aged 64)
Seattle, Washington
Buried St. James Cathedral, Seattle, Washington

Thomas Joseph Murphy (October 3, 1932 – June 26, 1997) was an American bishop in the Catholic Church who served as Bishop of Great Falls from 1978–1987, Coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle from 1987–1991, and Archbishop of Seattle from 1991 until his death.[1]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Murphy was ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1958. In 1978, he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and was consecrated bishop later that year.

Episcopal career[edit]

On May 26, 1987, Murphy was appointed coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle with immediate right of succession to Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Murphy's appointment came after a series of controversies surrounding Hunthausen which included an apostolic visitation to the archdiocese ordered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 1985, the Vatican appointed Donald Wuerl as auxiliary bishop of Seattle, with authority to overrule Archbishop Hunthausen in several important areas.[2] This appointment proved controversial among American Catholics, and as a result the Vatican removed Wuerl from his post and installed Murphy as a coadjutor with far less immediate authority.[2]

Murphy became Archbishop of Seattle upon Hunthausen's retirement on August 21, 1991. As archbishop, he traveled extensively to parishes around the archdiocese and was an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in the archdiocese. He oversaw an extensive renovation of St. James Cathedral, which was completed in 1994. Under Murphy's administration the archdiocese saw an increase in registered Catholics, and an increase in outreach and ministries for women, various ethnic groups, and homosexuals.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

Archbishop Murphy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 1996 and had been undergoing chemotherapy when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on June 26, 1997.[3] He is interred in the crypt at St. James Cathedral.

In 1999, Holy Cross High School, a Catholic school in Everett, Washington, was renamed Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy High School in Murphy's honor. In 2000, a new organ built in the apse of St. James Cathedral was named the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Millennium Organ.


  1. ^ "Archbishop Thomas Joseph Murphy". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. [self-published source]
  2. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (June 27, 1997). "Thomas Murphy, Archbishop Of Seattle Since '91, Dies at 64". New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Macdonald, Sally; Bartley, Nancy (June 27, 1997). "Murphy: Passed Along His Faith And Gave Tirelessly Of Himself -- Archbishop Gave His Attention To Priests, The Poor, Teens". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]

  • [1] - official site
  • [2]-interactive timeline of his life
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Eldon Bernard Schuster
Bishop of Great Falls-Billings
1978 – 1987
Succeeded by
Anthony Michael Milone
Preceded by
Raymond Hunthausen
Archbishop of Seattle
1991 – 1994
Succeeded by
Alexander Joseph Brunett