Parkville, MD—Sister Danielle Murphy, MHSH celebrated her 50th Jubilee as a Mission Helper of the Sacred Heart during a Mass and reception in her honor in the Chapel of Oak Crest retirement community on September 8.
Over 275 attendees, including twenty-two sisters from the MHSH, witnessed Sr. Danielle renew her vows on the same date—and same hour—as she entered the order exactly fifty years ago.
"I drove with my parents from Wilmington, Delaware on September 8, 1965 to the Order's Motherhouse in Baltimore to begin as a postulant," recalled Sr. Danielle. "That car ride was the beginning of a humbling and rewarding journey."
Sister Danielle, a resident of Perry Hall, is the Pastoral Administrator for the Catholic Community of Oak Crest, a position she has held since 2000. She holds a BA in Theology and MA in Religious Education and is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker with clinical training.
She has held a variety of leadership roles with the Mission Helpers Order whose reach extends throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. She was elected by her sisters as President of the Order for two terms (1988-1996).
During her tenure, Sister Danielle noted that "we were able to complete two much-needed construction projects in Baltimore and celebrate the Order's centennial. It was a fulfilling time with the most rewarding experience being able to visit all the community missions."
In 1963, during her senior year at St. Elizabeth High School, she was encouraged to give one year of her life to the Catholic Church. As a result, she participated in the Mary Mission Program in North Carolina. It was a lay program in which twelve high school girls from across the nation volunteered for one year to work with the Mission Helpers serving the very poor.
"The program's leader, Sister Elaine Walsh, was a tremendous inspiration. She was a kind, supportive mentor who I considered a dear friend," noted Sr. Danielle.
From there, even as she went on with a regular life of working and dating interests, pursuing a vocation in the Catholic Church was on her mind. "I was attracted to the Mission Helper's dedication to being among the people and helping them directly. They opened doors for me beyond what teaching in a classroom ever could," said Sr. Danielle.
Throughout her career, Sr. Danielle has done just that, visiting people in their homes, counseling, teaching catechists and serving as a religious educator for adults. With MHSH, she has been stationed in Winston-Salem, NC, Falls Church, VA, Brooklyn, NY and New York City. Locally, she served as the Director of Religious Education at the Nativity Parish in Timonium from 1975-1980.
One personal highlight occurred during the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Baltimore in 1995.
"The Pope presided over an Interfaith Prayer Service held at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen," she said. "Security was very tight, but, following the service as the Pope was leaving, he walked by the Major Superiors of all religious communities who had reserved seats in the sanctuary."
"As he passed right in front of me, Cardinal Keeler told the Pope that I was the Major Superior of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. As we shook hands, it felt as if time had stopped. All I could think to say was 'God bless you.' For years since, it's been a running joke among the sisters that I blessed Pope John Paul II," said Sr. Danielle.
Following the jubilee celebration at Oak Crest, Sr. Danielle reflected on her service to the Mission Helpers.
"It is surreal to think where those fifty years went. I started during an era in the late 1960's of great change in both society and the Catholic Church with the unfolding of the Civil Rights Movement and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. " said Sr. Danielle. "I always considered myself blessed to be in the right place at the right time."
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest is one of eighteen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living. Located in Parkville, Maryland the scenic 87-acre campus is home to more than 2,100 residents. Oak Crest is the ideal greater Baltimore retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure.