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Sanctae Crucis Award Recipients 2000

William M. Murphy '73

Bill Murphy understands what it is to live the Gospel message. His life is testament to the ideals of community, compassion and sacrifice. Bill credits Fr. Joe LaBran with instilling in him a love of service and conscience. But those qualities have only grown in the year's since Bill's Commencement.

It is, perhaps, entirely appropriate that Bill Murphy met his wife, Sharon, at the Center for Creative Non-Violence in Washington, D.C. This is a couple who, for the last 22 years, have genuinely made their life together a symbol of commitment and service to others.

The very first year they were married, Bill and Sharon Murphy opened their home to a homeless family. The experience was transforming and, very quickly, it became a lifestyle. With the help of Bill's father, the Murphys purchased a redbrick townhouse down the road from Catholic University. They renovated and furnished the property and in 1981, they opened the first Mary House.

Today, the Murphys operate 10 buildings that provide housing and services for 30 homeless families at a time. Volunteers and private donations sustain this entire operation. The Murphys also feed an additional 15 families every week. They operate a clothing bank and a children's library. And they arrange personal counseling for those in need. Of late, Bill and Sharon have been handling the needs of refugees from Bosnia, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic. Bill and Sharon take in people who have lost hope or had hope stolen from them. Then the Murphys go about restoring that hope. With food and shelter and opportunity and pervasive human kindness. Mary House is the best kind of success story. It inspires us to be better people.

“We're accomplished beggars,” is how Bill recently described himself and his wife to The Washington Post. But the truth is that Bill Murphy is a living, breathing example of the Gospel. He puts his beliefs in action every day. He and Sharon have raised their family in the very midst of these Gospel beliefs and, by all accounts, they've turned out four remarkable children Mark, Michael, Caitlin and Meaghan.

Truly a man for others, Bill's empathy, commitment and spirit have made him an icon of Christian charity. William Murphy understands that what we do for the least of our brothers, we do for Christ Himself, and for this the College of the Holy Cross presents to him the Sanctae Crucis Award.