Loretto Sister Dunphy served 66 years

Julie Filby

Colorado native Sister Carol Dunphy, 92, a Sister of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross for 66 years, died Feb. 19 at the order’s motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.

Sister Dunphy helped establish Loretto’s first mission in South America. She also served in the Archdiocese of Denver for more than 25 years, primarily as an administrative assistant at the order’s central office in Denver from 1982 to 2002. She also served with the Vietnamese Resettlement Committee of Denver Catholic Community Services from 1973 to 1975, as a secretary to the Colorado Catholic Conference in 1976, and social advocate on the sisters’ central staff from 1980 to 1982.

Sister Carol retired to the Motherhouse Infirmary in Nerinx in 2003, where she resided until her death. There she was resident electrician, engineer, plumber and carpenter.

“With her own fix-it tools, Sister Carol could repair leaky faucets, crumbling stairs, VCRs and practically any other piece of equipment that went on the blink,” according to a statement from the order. “Her calm capability made her unflappable in emergencies. (She was) a Denver Broncos fan, she also loved the outdoors.”

Carol Mae Dunphy was born March 12, 1922, in Eastlake, Colo., the first of four children to Arthur John and Edith Louise (Molholm) Dunphy. After graduating from high school in 1940 she attended business college, then in 1943 she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and worked in a Navy communications offices in San Francisco and Pearl Harbor.

She was discharged in December 1945 and attended Webster College (now University) in Webster Groves, Mo. In 1949, she entered the Sisters of Loretto, the same congregation her younger sister, Lois, had entered in 1941. She was received into the order Dec. 8, 1949, taking the name Sister Peter Michael. She made her first vows in 1951 and her final vows in 1955.

Sister Dunphy earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in Spanish and education, from Webster College in 1952, a master’s in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1959, and a master’s in community development from the University of Louisville in 1970.

From 1952 to 1957, she taught at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves then as director of St. Joseph Residence Hall at Loretto Heights College in Denver from 1957 to 1959, before being appointed superior and principal at Bishop Toolen High School, Mobile, Ala.

In 1960, she was the congregation’s first superior of its mission to La Paz, Bolivia. In 1962, she became regional superior for all Loretto missions in South America. In 1963, she was named principal of Colegio Loreto in La Paz.

Sister Carol returned to the United States in 1967 to teach at Loretto High School in Louisville, Ky. and was principal from 1971 to 1973. In the Archdiocese of Louisville, she was administrative assistant to the Senate of Religious from 1973 to 1975.

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Sister Dunphy Feb. 24 at the Church of the Seven Dolors at the motherhouse and she was buried at Loretto Motherhouse Cemetery. She is survived by two sisters, Loretto Sister Lois Dunphy of Nerinx, and Phyllis Brachle of Denver. Memorials may be sent to the Loretto Development Office, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80123.

COMING UP: Father Jan Mucha remembered for his ‘joy and simplicity’

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When Father Marek Ciesla was 11 years old, he encountered a priest in his hometown in northern Poland who was visiting his parish on mission.

“I was impressed,” said Father Ciesla. “A couple of my friends and I were talking about how energetic, how wonderful this priest was. I think in this way he inspired us a little bit to follow the call to the priesthood.”

The priest was Father Jan Mucha, and little did Father Ciesla know that decades later and an ocean away, he would reunite with the man that inspired him and his friend to pursue the priesthood.

In 2010 when Father Mucha was retiring from his role as pastor of St. Joseph Polish Catholic Church in Denver, Father Ciesla was sent from Poland to the Archdiocese of Denver to take his place.

The priests spent two days together, and Father Ciesla was struck by the familiarity of Father Mucha.

“For some reason, the way he was talking and the words he was using, something rang a bell,” he said. “I asked him if he remembers visiting my parish. And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I had it on my list. I remember.’”

Father Ciesla was amazed that the man he was there to replace was the same one who had impacted his life all those years ago.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Father Ciesla. “I never thought I would meet him again.”

Father Mucha passed away March 21 after serving the archdiocese for 40 years. He was 88 years old.

Father Mucha was born March 16, 1930 in Gron, Poland to parents Kazimierz and Aniela Mucha. He was one of five children. Father Mucha attended high school in Kraków and went on to study philosophy and theology at a seminary in Tarnów.

Father Mucha was ordained December 19, 1954 in Tarnów by Auxiliary Bishop Karol Pękala. He served at St. Theresa Parish in Lublin, Sacred Heart Parish in Florynka and as a Latin teacher at Sacred Heart Novice House in Mszana Dolna.

He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver on April 20, 1978. Before he was granted retirement status in August of 2010, he served at St. Joseph Polish for nearly 40 years.

“Father Mucha was dedicated to his people and there was a joy about him,” said Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, who had known Father Mucha since his own ordination in 1974 and more recently within his former role as Vicar for Clergy.

“I admired his joy and simplicity,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He seemed to have no guile and what you saw is what you got. He was very proud of his Polish heritage and was unafraid to be Polish.”

Father Mucha’s move to the United States came about after he visited St. Joseph Polish while on vacation. The pastor at the time was sick, and parishioners asked Father Mucha to stay.

After receiving approval from his superiors in Poland and the archbishop in Denver, Father Mucha did stay, and ended up serving the parish for nearly four decades.

“He was happy to serve here,” said Father Ciesla. “All the time, he was a man of faith. He kept his eye on Jesus.”

Msgr. Schmitz believes Father Mucha’s faithfulness and tenacity as a priest will leave a lasting impression on those he served.

“He was dedicated to the priesthood and didn’t want to retire until he was sure his people would be well taken care of,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He could come across as tough, but really he was a compassionate person [with] a heart open to the Lord’s work.”