Despite the vast size of the Diocese of Great-Falls-Billings, MT, Bishop Murphy constantly worked to develop personal relationships with all the members of his flock. He made a standing monthly request of parish pastors to provide lists of people who experienced a significant moment in their lives – a baptism, marriage, anniversary or the loss of a loved one etc. The bishop would sit down once or twice each month to write letters to each of these individuals.
Bishop Murphy shared his thoughts on the letters in a column in the October 16, 1983 edition of the Montana Catholic Register, “As I sat down to catch up on these letters, I became very aware of the real life of a diocese – the life which takes place in those significant moments of human experience when we celebrate God’s presence through sacraments and liturgy. The real measurement of the vitality of life present in the church is not found in financial statements or the number of buildings which comprise a parish plant. Rather, we measure the life of the Roman Catholic faith community in our contact with the Lord through liturgy, prayer and sacraments.”