Father Robert J. Dunphy, retired pastor, dies


Father Robert J. Dunphy, 78, a retired pastor known for his personal warmth and counseling skills, died Nov. 27.

From 1989-94, he was pastor of Saint Rose of Lima, Newfield, after which he served as pastor of Sacred Heart, Mount Ephraim, for 16 years, until 2010.

During the merger of Sacred Heart and Audubon’s Holy Maternity Parish that year, he served as first administrator, and later pastor, of Holy Maternity, before retiring in June 2010.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., he attended Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y., where he earned a master’s degree in counseling, and Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe.

Ordained on May 22, 1965, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden, by Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano, Father Dunphy’s first assignment was as parochial vicar at Saint John Parish in Collingswood, where he served until 1966.

He was parochial vicar at Saint Mary, Gloucester, 1966-68; Assumption, Pomona, 1968; Queen of Heaven, Cherry Hill, 1968-73; Saint Agnes, Blackwood, 1973-80; Saint Margaret, Woodbury Heights, 1980-85; and Saint Charles Borromeo, Washington Township, 1985-89.

He was a member of the Priest Personnel Board and the Common Policy Committee for Marriage Preparation, and was a Pre-Cana moderator.

Msgr. Thomas Morgan, a brother priest and friend of Father Dunphy’s, recalled a “welcoming and warm…kind and generous” clergyman who “was a skilled pastoral counselor.”

“People from within and outside the parish(es) came to him for help. They came looking for mercy and looking for understanding. And with him they found compassion, gentleness and caring,” he said.

“Father Dunphy was so non-judgmental and so empathic,” Msgr. Morgan continued. “He was so comforting to those who were in difficult situations. He was so healing and helpful that he was in great demand.

“Father Dunphy’s gentle and non-directive style brought the compassionate teachings of Jesus to the fore. He brought Jesus’ mercy and love and forgiveness to so many hurting people. And it was that witness that often brought a fresh meaning and a new direction to so many people in South Jersey,” he said.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Saint Barnabas Church, Portsmouth, Rhode Island on Dec. 7. Interment followed at Saint Columba Cemetery, Middletown, Rhode Island.