Genevieve Murphy, 68
Priest, Buck Mountain Episcopal Church
Becoming a woman of the cloth was not Genevieve Murphy’s first career choice. In fact, she tried to ignore her calling, thinking, “Surely God, you’ve got the wrong Murphy.” So she raised sheep at her farm in Keswick, little knowing she’d be shepherding another flock at an age when most people are retiring.
Having been a nurse midwife in her native England, Murphy came to the United States for research. She met her husband-to-be here, and raised a family. Then, when her husband retired from UVA, he said, “It’s your turn to do what you want.” She obtained her Ph.D. in psychology before deciding to take the path to ordination.
Murphy describes being the priest for a 257-member congregation as a “detail job”– “like Ben Hur in a chariot holding the reins to all those horses.”
Murphy displays some pretty fancy vestments in her closet but warns that one shouldn’t join the clergy “if you just want to wear the clothes.”
“There’s a certain dignity attached to this collar,” she says, and she doesn’t take kindly to those who address her as “girl,” “honey,” or “sweetie pie.”
The hardest part of the job, says Murphy, “is to prevent myself from thinking I can be all things to all people all the time.” She strives for humility, recognizing that she isn’t “a big cheese.”
“I love the services and celebrating holy communion,” she says. “I love writing sermons. I love the people.”
Clearly, she savors her job. “It’s very rewarding in many ways– even when I’m cross.”Read more on: Buck Mountain Episcopal Church