Gerald Murphy (1931 – 2015) led a catholic life in every sense of the word. The first son of a Irish policeman in the Met, he left school at 16 determined to pursue a career as an architect. Thrown out of a London Poly for failing his written exams, he found his way to the Architectural Association where how well you designed was more important than absorbing other people’s ideas.
In his twenties he combined his practice work with running and cooking for cafes, restaurants and, rather advanced for those days, pop-up nightclubs. He also fell in love but it wasn’t to last and his subsequent romances would be forgotten when the next architectural project came along.
Much of his professional work was for the Church and in 1982 his firm won the competition to build the Wembley outdoor church for the Pope Paul II’s public mass. His faith was firm but unsanctimonious. His work for religious vocations through Serra International, of which he became International President at age 50 was rewarded by a papal knighthood. Post Serra Conference trips were a highlight and the hilarious journey to Genoa in a double-decker bus well stocked with spirit, if not always divine, is a cherished memory for many.
He had his share of adversity. A physical disability meant he had to wear callipers as a child. He was dyslexic; he never could spell but he could spin a good yarn and his stories make this account of a catholic life a funny, inspiring and intriguing read. In the last 12 years of his life he found a new contentment in marriage and as the step father to two daughters. In the year he died, at nearly 84, he was still giving of his time to various charities and to the NHS as a mental health manager.