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‘This Catholic Life’: Making a life in the law still leaves time for Church, family, volunteering
October 14th, 2009

Pete Murphy says he lives life with “the glass half full.” The optimistic San Francisco attorney loves being Catholic and “wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Pete and his wife, Joanne, married 44 years July 17, met at a Catholic Alumni Club gathering for single Catholic college graduates at Lake Tahoe, Pete said, telling the story with his ever present smile and accompanying laugh.

“The club had its national convention in Squaw Valley in 1964 where Joanne and I met and I just knew,” Pete said, adding that he is very glad Joanne said ‘yes.’ “I married an absolutely great woman who is a great wife, companion and mother.”

“We’re very lucky,” Murphy said. “Our three boys – Martin, John and Patrick - and their families live close and we happily get to be doting grandparents.” The youngsters they get to spoil are Martin and his wife, Marie’s, daughters, Milan and Sierra; John and his wife, Adrienne’s, daughter, Olivia; and Patrick and his wife, Jenny’s, son, Luke.

Martin D. Murphy, Pete is a nickname given him by his now-late parents from his love of his stuffed animal Peter Rabbit, grew up in San Francisco’s Marina District and is a graduate of Notre Dame des Victoires Elementary School and St. Ignatius College Preparatory. His mom, Anna, was a longtime teacher at San Francisco’s Galileo High School and his dad, Martin, also an attorney, retired as president of Transamerica Title.

“We’d see people everywhere in the Marina and they’d know my mom from school,” Pete recalled. “It was always ‘Hey, Mrs. Murphy’ and ‘Good afternoon, Mrs. Murphy.’ People knew and respected my folks.”

Pete completed undergraduate work at Santa Clara University and later served two years as a lieutenant in the Army. He graduated from University of San Francisco Law School in 1961 and joined San Francisco’s Tobin and Tobin law firm in 1962. He has been a partner there since 1970 and senior partner since 1985. Pete’s law specialty is non-profit organizations, wills and estates. Among his firm’s clients are the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Family Sisters, and Hanna Boys Center. Pete is a daily communicant, a “good habit” he started 29 years ago. “When I turned 45 I took to heart the Vatican II words that Mass was the highest form of worship and I thought ‘Why not get in on that?’”

Pete said starting the day with Mass helps put perspective to his daily life. “I don’t take life all that seriously,” he admitted, this time minus the laugh and smile, “and I’ve been very lucky. I had wonderful parents who provided me with a wonderful growing up and Catholic education.”

The rosary is also a prayer Pete tries to get to everyday and he enjoys spiritual reading with his favorite selections coming from C.S. Lewis, Frank Sheed and Peter Kreeft.

Pete and Joanne have been members of St. Brendan Parish for 41 years. “It is truly a top rate parish,” Pete said, noting he’s happy with the appointment of new pastor, Father Dan Nascimento. “He listens, has a presence all around the parish and appreciates the help and advice he gets. He’s a good man.”

Pete and Joanne both are very active as Catholic volunteers. Pete currently chairs the St. Brendan Parish capital campaign and sits on the Board of Counselors at USF Law School. Joanne is a longtime St. Brendan and St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteer and also assists with organizations including the Little Sisters of the Poor and Little Children’s Auxiliary of Catholic Charities CYO. “I like people,” Pete said. “I’m what they call an extrovert, I think. I’m comfortable with people and get energized when I’m with them.”

The Catholic Church also energizes Pete and he considers himself lucky to be a lifelong member. “The Mass and Eucharist are the Church,” he said. “I think Archbishop (George) Niederauer is a real man of the people. He’s not aloof and is a real good guy, a decent guy. He just has it, I think. In addition, I really do think we have good priests here.”

The Church is always strong in the sacraments, Pete said. “Sometimes in its human capacity the Church is weak but in its sacred capacity it is always solid.”

“I’m a happy, husband, father and grandfather,” Pete said.

Pete is a forever fan of daily Mass and recommends that anyone not already in the habit think about getting it on their schedule. “Consider attending one weekday Mass in addition to Sunday Mass,” Pete said. “Develop the habit of attending some weekday Masses. Most are but a half-hour long. If the sacraments, especially Eucharist, are not a part of your life make them a part of your life.”


From October 16, 2009 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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