Dierks Family Photo

Lucile Murray Durkin with her daughters, Ellen (Mary-Cabrini) Durkin, Frances Durkin Colletti, Sheila Durkin Dierks and two of her seven grandchildren, John Dierks and Alice Colletti

Lucile Murray Durkin, wisdom woman and mother of three daughters, was a visionary Catholic who built community: family, parish, neighborhood, civic. Born in 1908, her earliest memory was, as a four-year old, riding in a pram being pushed by her mother, Winifred Killoran Murray, in a suffrage march in Ironton, Ohio, years before women gained the right to vote. It was a profound memory that would fuel the next nine decades.

She was a founder of the Lay Pastoral Council in Cincinnati, and served the diocese as a member of the school board. She was a founder of the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition in 1969, a body that, almost fifty years later, continues to do robust and respectful work on human rights through interfaith dialogue.

Lucile was also a sensitive liturgist, loving The Word and its gracious transmission. She worked in interracial dialogue and acted to see that young women would have advanced educational opportunities.

In the 1950s and beyond, she and my father, Lawrence, began and fostered generations of study clubs in which young Catholic couples read and engaged emerging theologies. The couples informally created small faith communities who read, studied and prayed together. They nurtured the spirit of thoughtful educated lay women and men ready to encounter the vision of Vatican II. In this they prefigured non-clerical living room circles of the liberated faith of the post-Vatican II years.

In the 1970s, the blossoming of a push for women’s ordination brought hundreds of enthusiastic and bombastic opinions published in Catholic diocesan newspapers. Lucile’s voice was heard in a March 4, 1977 letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph Register which began, “When, in the future, women are serving God and His people in the fullness of priesthood… brave pioneers and their sisters will be blessed for their courage and perseverance.”

Lucile was funny, inventive, quick to welcome. She believed that hospitality is the primary virtue of the church, and living it out in our home as well as in parish and community.