I read the article in the Great Bend Tribune: “Father Murphy, oldest Catholic priest in Kansas, retires” (Jan 16 issue). With the retirement this past Jan. 3, it marks a milestone of history for the tiny community of Olmitz. Father Ultan Murphy, age 87, retired as pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Olmitz, after 33 years. My late mother was a Riedl. She briefly attended school in Olmitz as did her Riedl, Hampel, Kober, Navratil, Lux, and Reimer ancestors. Father Murphy knew them all, as well as my mom’s Schneider, Ohnmacht, and Bahr cousins. However, Father Murphy stands-out as a “centerpiece” of the Olmitz community. I consider him a good friend. I told another good friend of mine about Father Murphy’s retirement: Archbishop James Patrick Keleher (age 82) of Kansas City. As I told Archbishop Keleher: “A good priest is hard to find; and a good bishop is even harder to find”. He chuckled, but it is quite true. The ‘pool’ of honest, dedicated, knowledgeable and reputable priests is smaller than the actual number of priests themselves. And, since bishops are drawn from the ‘pool’ of priests, it makes finding a good bishop even more selectively rare. I salute Father Murphy on his retirement. I consider him a good friend. He has given me prayers in times of need and good counsel in times of uncertainty. Although he will be ‘missed’ via retirement, the nice thing is that he will be greeted by many who share the joy that he continues to live in Olmitz to enjoy his retirement and fill-in when necessary. A good spiritual cleric is hard-to-find, regardless of denomination. Father Ultan Murphy is “top-notch”.
James A. Marples