West Hartford

Sister Mary Ellen Murphy

Sister Mary Ellen Murphy (Teresa Joseph) of the Sisters of Mercy died unexpectedly on Monday, July 27, 2015 at St. Francis Hospital. A native of West Hartford, born to the late James and Lucy Anne Jackman Murphy, Sister attended Mount St. Joseph Academy and earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from St. Joseph College, now University of St. Joseph. She received a master’s degree from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University. She did NASA sponsored doctoral research at the University of California- San Diego and the University of Glasgow, Scotland. In addition, she received a sabbatical appointment at Universite Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. Before entering the Sisters of Mercy, Sister was a successful research chemist employed in private industry for eight years. As a Sister of Mercy, she professed her vows in 1961 combining a scientific career with the ministry of teaching at which she excelled at St. Joseph College. After thirty-three years of teaching and research and fifteen years as chief academic administrator of St. Joseph’s College, Standish Maine, she returned to the West Hartford campus as visiting professor. Sister Mary Ellen brought together a unique combination of excellence in teaching, effective academic administration, significant pioneering research in geo chemistry and space exploration and was acclaimed internationally. She was co- investigator and one of the first women to analyze the “moon rocks” brought back from Apollo 11 space flight in 1969. She also served as a consultant for NASA’s Viking project to Mars in 1967 and she was a member of NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) team in her role as a visiting scientist in the Laboratory of Extraterrestrial Physics at Goddard Space Flight Center. Sister was recipient of numerous awards and honors:NSF Development Grant, in geological resources, Denver, CO, Institut de Chimie, Univ. of Louis Pasteur Strasbourg France, CT Academy of Science, American Cyanamid Teaching Award, Outstanding Teacher Award St. Joseph College, NASA Post-Doctoral appointment in Geochemistry, University of Glasgow, National Research Council Fellowship, and nine additional research grants, Honorary Doctorate, University of Hartford, D.Sc. and Honorary doctorate St. Joseph College. She was a trustee of St. Joseph College for 12 years assuming leadership roles and was named trustee emerita. She served in Leadership for her Mercy community as a general councilor and had as well numerous committee appointments. She was instrumental in working on governance structures for the Sisters of Mercy. Sister coauthored two patents, and published numerous articles on lunar rocks. She always put a premium on outreach to students and the interested public in understanding space research and knowledge of the Earth and its relationship to the universe. Revered, esteemed and loved by her sisters in Mercy, her presence will be genuinely missed. Sister Mary Ellen is survived by her siblings, Vincent C. and Nancy Murphy of Sherman, Ct., Sheila Rose and Walter Gilbert of North Falmouth, Ma., and Stephen D. and Donna Murphy of West Hartford, Ct. She is survived by many nieces and nephews as well as grandnieces and nephews. Sister is predeceased by her brother, Reverend Arthur Murphy, priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford and former pastor of St. Thomas Church in West Hartford. She is also predeceased by her sister and brother-in-law, Anne Marie and John Melly, formerly of Niantic, Ct and Vero Beach, Fl. A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Friday, July 31, 1:00 p.m. at Connor Chapel of Our Lady, University of St. Joseph 1678 Asylum Ave. West Hartford. This will be preceded by calling hours beginning at 10:00 a.m. Burial will take place immediately following the liturgy in St. Mary Cemetery. Those wishing to make a donation in Sister’s memory are asked to consider Sisters of Mercy, 55 E. Cedar St. Newington, CT 06111 or University of St. Joseph West Hartford, CT 06117. Sheehan-Hilborn-Breen Funeral Home has care of the arrangements. Online condolence please visit: www.SheehanHilbornBreen.com

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