Loretto Sister Dunphy served 66 years

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: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.


Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.