Venard J. Murphy, OFM
1934 – 2012
Fr. Venard Murphy, OFM, was born on July 29, 1934 in New York City and baptized Joseph at Holy Cross Parish, the Bronx, N.Y. After graduating in 1948 from Holy Cross Elementary School, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., and studied there six years. There, he was named “senior” of his class and was known for his ability to play the saxophone. He was received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1954 and given the religious name Venard James. Fr. Venard professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1958 and was ordained in 1961.
After completing one year of pastoral theology at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, Fr. Venard was assigned as assistant pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., in 1962. He quickly developed a liking for the Southern way of life and, with the exception of two years, he remained south of the Mason-Dixon Life for the rest of his life.
After leaving Triangle, Fr. Venard when to the Province’s missions in the “Southern Tier” of Virginia, serving as assistant pastor from 1964 to 1970 at St. Richard’s Parish in Emporia, Va. He became guardian and pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Clarksville, Va., with its mission churches in South Hill and South Boston, from 1970 to 1973. He was then asked to come north to serve as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish, Buffalo, N.Y., where he remained for two years.
Fr. Venard was delighted to return South in 1975, as guardian and pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Thomasville, Ga. He served there for 10 years before moving to St. Joseph Parish in Bainbridge, Ga., where he served as pastor for eight years. After the Province’s withdrawal from the Southwest Georgia parishes in 1993, Fr. Venard went on to become parochial vicar at St. Francis Parish in Apopka, Fla. He moved to St. Anthony Friary, St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1996, where he served as chaplain at Bon Secours Maria Manor Nursing Home. He also provided weekend assistance in neighboring parishes before retiring from active ministry in 2005.
He died on Feb. 9, 2012 at St. Anthony’s Hospital, St. Petersburg. Fr. Venard was 77 years old, a professed Franciscan friar for 56 years and a priest for 50 years.