28 July 2017 » Home > The Murray Years
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With the departure of Father Arahill in 1969, it was appropriate that our next assistant priest should be Father Paddy Murray. He was born in County Down in 1931 and educated at All Hallows and at the University College, Dublin. After serving at the Cathedral, he worked as an assistant editor at the Zealandia from 1962 to 1969 when he became briefly the editor. He was initially better known by the school community because he had helped teaching music in the school before becoming our assistant priest. He had a rich melodious voice and even in conversation the lilt of his Irish accent warmed his listeners to him. He shared a great interest with Father Rodgers and could reputedly discuss winners and losers at Ellerslie for hours.

A practice of honouring the aged began under Father Murray. The Women's Committee including Val McConnell, Lorraine Smith, Maureen Kneebone, Mollie Hogan, Gertie Le Sueur, Norma Sullivan and Margaret Farnan rallied to prepare an appetising afternoon tea after a type of variety show was presented. Father Murray always sang and the outing for the elderly was always most appreciated.

In 1969 the parish account had a healthy credit of38000 pounds and it was time for another burst of major building and renovation. The old army hut that had given excellent service as a church, a school and a sanctuary with side altars was demolished and a new transept in the style of the nave was erected. Further Latin inscriptions were set into the frieze proclaiming the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

The creator of the much admired stained glass window of the Magi in the porch had passed away but Josephine Donovan, a lecturer at the Ardmore Training College, had bought his business and she produced windows for the transept. The theme of the smaller windows depict visually what the Latin inscriptions proclaim Christi Caro Sanguis Fonsque Vitae Pignus (The Body and Blood of Christ are a spring and pledge of life) . The crowning glory was the central window behind the altar depicting the Risen Christ, the indispensible belief for any sincere Christian.

Again a parquet floor was chosen for the new sanctuary. True to the spirit of Vatican II the altar became the focal point of the church with the tabernacle and baptismal font having their unique and separate designated places. The baptismal font was a gift from the Pacific Islands. It was a large clam shell, a constant reminder of the contribution of the island communities in our parish.


At this time the sisters' habit saw modifications too. The wimple paraphernalia was dispensed with and a new wearer-friendly headdress was worn. The introduction of white habits in summer earned the nuns the nickname of "the angels". The school witnessed improvements too. A new staff room was completed and the former one became a much needed office for the principal, Sister Eugene (Sister Margaret O'Neill). A former classroom was converted to a library.


For the fourth consecutive year, the school won the Marcellin Shield for Athletics. Its A grade rugby team won the Knockout Cup. The school was first in the Intermediate Choral Speaking at the Auckland Competitions and third in singing. It was first in the Junior A Choral Speaking and third in the Junior B section. It also had successes in three grades in the Trinity College exams. The Annus Mirabilis was in 1971 when St Therese won the inter-school singing competitions. Father Murray was the accompanist and Sister Eugene was the conductor. This was an incredibly good result because the school was so small in comparison with the other competing schools, some of which were secondary schools. The chairman of the school committee, Martin Smith, donated a large memorial album which the pupils under the staff leadership developed into an excellent record of the first 25 years. It certainly was an impressive achievement, something to be celebrated in the 25th Jubilee Year of 1971.

There was certainly much to celebrate in the Jubilee year. For the service of thanksgiving Father Rodgers invited all former priests of the parish to concelebrate Mass with him. A jubilant occasion.