19 February 2008

'Good night, Mrs Murray, wherever you are'.

When I was reading today’s gospel at Mass (Mt 23:1-12) I thought of Mrs Murray when I came to the last two verses: 'He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; ‘whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’

When I was in the Boys’ Kindergarten at Stanhope Street School, Dublin, run by the Irish Sisters of Charity, from 1947 to 1951, there was a woman working there whom we knew simply as ‘Mrs Murray’. She was a cleaning-lady, probably in her 40s or 50s. But a young child has no real idea of age! She was always cheerful and smiling.

Though it never happened to me, there were occasions when boys had very embarrassing ‘accidents’ and soiled themselves. Mrs Murray always cheerfully took care of them, cleaned them up as best she could, comforted them and, as far as I can recall, took them home. I never knew anything about her family or where she lived. But I often think of her cheerful, constant presence.

Six years ago when I was based in Glasgow for a few months I went to the men’s room in one of the shopping malls. It was the cleanest I had ever seen in such a place. The janitor happened to be there and I thanked him for his work. His face lit up with joy.

In my brief homily I mentioned these two persons as the kind Jesus had in mind when he spoke the words above. And we prayed for them.

To paraphrase a well-loved entertainer, Jimmy Durante, who wasn’t ashamed of his Catholic faith, ‘Good night, Mrs Murray, wherever you are!’


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Fr..

Dallen said...

I started school in stanhope st in 1956. I remember Mrs. Murray. The loos always smelled of strong jeyes fluid. She was so kind and wonderful to the kids. Pity Sister Anne Marie was not like her. I had her the first year I was in school and she hit us (four year olds) with two rulers together. She also taught the boys and humiliated them many times by making them stand in the girls classrooms with a ribbon in their hair. Apart from this one nun, the other nuns were great. Happy times eh! cheers Dallen

Dallen said...

hi, I started school at stanhope st. in 1956. I remember Mrs. Murray. there was always a strong smell of jeyes fluid in the outside yard toilets. and yes she was a very friendly wonderful woman. Always , always kind and very much in the background. Dorothy Allen