Two priests with local ties celebrate golden jubilees

Catholic Courier    |    12.20.2009
Category: Vocations


Basilian Father John "Jack" Murray, a priest beloved by many local Worldwide Marriage Encounter participants, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination next month.

Father Murray grew up in Detroit, Mich., where he attended Visitation Grade School and Catholic Central High School. When he was a senior in high school his older sister asked him what he planned on doing after graduation.

"I said I supposed I would go to college, and she said, 'Have you ever thought of being a priest? What better thing could you do with your life?'" Father Murray recalled. "I had no answer for that one, and it was probably something that triggered my decision to think about entering into the seminary."

Father Murray entered the Basilian novitiate in Rochester in 1947, and he graduated from Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1952. He'd taught several high-school classes while he was still in college, and after graduation he spent one year teaching English and typing at Central Catholic High School.

In 1953 he was sent to teach at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas, for a year, and in 1954 he entered the Basilian seminary in Toronto, where he studied theology. Father Murray was ordained June 29, 1957, and was then sent to Rome, where he earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology in 1960.

Father Murray then returned to Assumption College, where he taught theology and philosophy. In 1964 he was sent to teach at St. Michael's College in Toronto, and in 1966 he was sent to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, where he taught for the next 35 years.

"Teaching theology really deepened my own understanding of God and the church," Father Murray said. "What I was doing as a teacher helped me a great deal in my ability to preach."

In 1981 Father Murray became involved with Worldwide Marriage Encounter because he thought married couples weren't getting enough support from society. He's enjoyed getting to know married couples and see the way their love for each other reflects God's love, he said.

The couples Father Murray has met through Worldwide Marriage Encounter seem to return his love. On Feb. 3 they held a reception to mark his jubilee and presented him with a book containing 11 letters of praise and congratulations signed by more than 100 people.

Father Murray and the eight Basilian priests who were ordained with him will celebrate their jubilees with a reception in Toronto on June 29.

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