by Patria Baradi Pacis
On December 30, a liturgy celebrating and honoring the life of Gertrude Regina Murphy was held at St. Therese Lisieux Catholic Church. Father Bob Joerger and Pastor Bill Hoffmann from the Montauk Community Church (MCC) officiated a congregation of 100 relatives and friends who wore masks and were seated a pew apart.
Father Bob opened the homily by saying: “Gert Murphy walked the talk. She was a woman who was attentive to the Gospel Matthew 25:40-46. She fed the hungry, she gave clothes to those who needed them and she gave room to the homeless.” Father Bob continued by saying: “It’s hard to lose someone at Christmas time but what could be more appropriate than a homeless couple looking for a place to rest?” “Regretfully, I did not meet Gert in person since she had a stroke before I arrived. However, I was able to give her last rites through Face Time, shortly before she passed.”
Pastor Bill Hoffmann, who lives across the street from Gert got to know her well. “Gert’s faith extended beyond walls.” He said. “She was a friend, a partner in ministry and a sister with a small “s” in faith. Enjoyable in so many ways. Irreverent reverence.” “Every time Gert saw me, she would call me over and ask for help, not for herself but for others who needed help.”
Pastor Bill recalled that after the Florida Parkland High School shooting in 2018, weekly meetings were held with the community to get ideas on how to prevent future killings in Montauk. It was Gert that suggested handing out 1000’s leaflets at Montauk’s St. Patrick’s Parade, to spread the love of God, such as planting a flower, going barefoot, warming a heart, sitting with someone lonely, being patient, and having fun.
Cristina Sedigo, thanked Gert for taking her in when she was in desperate need of a place to stay. Cristina asked everyone to pick up a long, stem, red rose to say good-bye to their friend, who was cremated and enclosed in a beautiful, hand carved, wooden case, placed between a bouquet of white lilies and roses and an 8” by 10” portrait of smiling, Gert wearing her favorite, dangling earrings.
“On Eagle’s Wings”, “Amazing Grace” and “Lord You Have Come to the Seashore” were sung in between passages that were read by grand nephews and grandnieces. Gert’s niece Barbara thanked everyone for coming to say farewell to her Aunt.
On a personal note, I knew Gert as one of the original Montauk Writers Group (MWG) formed in 2007 at Fort Pond House. The group met every Wednesday to read their current works and to give each other constructive criticisms.
In 2016, Gert and the MWG was one of the fifty writers and photographers to publish an anthology book called “On Montauk: A Literary Celebration”, edited by Celine Keating and Ed Johann. Her love for Montauk is obvious on pages 310-315 in her “Montauk of the Memories and the Metaphors” essay contribution. A former teacher of 30 years plus, Gert liked the fact that the royalties from the book sales went to environmental education programs of Concern Citizens of Montauk (CCOM) and Third House Nature Center, Inc.
When my mom passed away in 2012, Gert was there to console me. When my sister had a heart attack in 2015, Gert was one of the volunteers who cheerfully, delivered food from Meals on Wheels to her.
A nun for seven years, an avid bridge player, a star basketball player, a good story teller, a great artist…that was Gert. She did not want to be the center of attention but she became one because of the love she exuded, never asking anything in return.
Gert fought until the end. She never gave up. Sadly, she succumbed to COVID-19 on Wednesday, December 16th at Skyview Rehab and Health Care Center in Croton on Hudson, New York. She was 82. Born from parents Cornelius and Marguerite Murphy of Manhattan and Bronx who predeceased her along with her siblings Vincent, Paul and Peggy. She leaves behind countless nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
“Montauk will miss you Gert, especially me and many others whose lives you touched. As Pastor Bill said, “Gert was an angel on earth and now she’s an angel in heaven.”