Brother Michael Murphy, FSC, Department of World Languages and Culture, Residence Hall Director

by Ginny Prior | May 12, 2016

Some things seem preordained. Take Brother Michael Murphy, the middle child raised in a traditional Irish Catholic family. Growing up in Napa and attending the Brothers’ Justin-Sienna High School, his parents encouraged him to consider religious life. “God was calling you—you had to respond,” he says.

But it wasn't until Brother Michael's junior year at UC Davis that he truly understood his calling. At the urging of the Brothers' vocation director, who stayed in touch with the young collegian after high school, he made the commitment to join the Brothers. “Figuratively speaking, he never let go.”

That decision led to a rich religious life that has allowed Brother Michael, with a doctorate in linguistics, to teach French at the University of Paris, Spanish at the University of Illinois and English and linguistics to Palestinian students at Bethlehem University. His three years at Bethlehem University were especially challenging.

“It’s an occupied country and that creates a layer of stress…people coming in late to class because of things like checkpoints. The male students were treated very poorly—more so than our female students—because the young men were always seen as potential terrorists. All that tension, I didn’t realize how stressful it was until I came back.”

In 2012, he returned to Saint Mary’s College to become the director of Mission and Ministry, coming full circle to the office where he worked 17 years ago. Today he’s back in the classroom, teaching linguistics in the Department of World Languages and Culture, and is resident director to 46 students in the Sabatte Townhouses.   

Thirty-four years after making his vows, Brother Michael still sees religious life as a gift.

“The De La Salle Brothers have a presence in 77 countries. There are so many opportunities to serve God as an educator.”