Hundreds fill Zahm chapel to pray for Conor Murphy
By JASON McFARLEY
Assistant News Editor
While soft tunes from an acoustic guitar streamed through the Zahm Hall chapel Tuesday night, students' thoughtful prayers and quiet sobbing provided a fitting chorus for the occasion.
"Miracle" may have been the operative word for the night, but it is uncertain if one will come for Notre Dame junior Conor Murphy. Amid reflections and grieving, several hundred students gathered for Mass in Zahm chapel Tuesday to offer prayers for Murphy. Murphy's health took a turn for the worst Tuesday when doctors discovered he was stricken with apparent fatal complications from leukemia.
Murphy, who was diagnosed with leukemia in March, recently developed pneumonia and his immune system is "seriously compromised," according to former Zahm rector Father Jim Leise, who has been in daily contact with the Murphy family.
"It's a very critical time and prayers would be appreciated by the family," Leise said.
In a homily at Tuesday's Mass, Zahm Hall rector Father Thomas Bednar spoke to a packed chapel that filled the pews and lined two walls of the chapel.
"We ask that Conor's life be renewed, that by some miracle he may return to us," Bednar said. "It's good that we weep and grieve today. We know that our sadness is a sign of our friendship and faith."
Throughout the homily, Bednar characterized Murphy as religious and courageous. Murphy demonstrated a strong will and a desire to be a person of faith, he said.
"We have the feeling that maybe Conor's life was too short, but we gather in a spirit of faith, knowing that life is a gift," Bednar said. "Let us trust in God's wisdom and God's love for us."
At points in the service, students were visibly moved by the event. Some students sobbed openly, while many embraced each other.
The occasion did not represent the first time the student body has showed its support for Murphy. At Murphy's urging in March, more than 610 people joined the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) at a drive held on campus.
Murphy found a match for his transplant through the NMDP, though not from a Notre Dame donor. Murphy underwent a bone marrow transplant early this Fall, but did not return to campus this August.
Liese said Tuesday that the Murphy family is thankful for the continuing support from the Notre Dame community.
"[She's] been overwhelmed by how much the ND family has proven to be that — a family," Liese said. " … she and her family are so grateful for the love and support that she and Conor have received."
All News Stories for Wednesday, January 31, 2001