Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of the Most Reverend James A. Murray, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, and a native son of the Diocese of Lansing, who died today. He was 87-years-old. May he rest in peace.
“The Diocese of Lansing has been incredibly blessed by the long priestly ministry of Bishop Emeritus James Murray of Kalamazoo,” said Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, June 5.
“I offer to the many people of our diocese who knew and loved Bishop Murray my condolences. And to Bishop Paul Bradley and the good people of the Diocese of Kalamazoo we offer our prayers for your consolation and for the repose of his soul.”
James Murray was born, July 5, 1932, in Jackson to James and Clare Murray. He attended St. Mary Elementary School, Jackson; graduated from St. Mary High School, Jackson; and then received his Bachelors of Arts degree from Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit. His additional academic degrees included: Bachelor of Theology, St. John Seminary, Catholic University of America; and a Licentiate of Canon Law, Catholic University of America.
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lansing by Bishop Joseph H. Albers on June 7, 1958 at St. Mary Cathedral, Lansing. He then served as assistant pastor of St. Joseph in St. Joseph from 1958 to 1961 before becoming assistant pastor of St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing from 1961 until 1962. Upon his return from a two-year sabbatical at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he served as assistant pastor at two other parishes in Lansing: St. Therese from 1964 to 1968 and St. Gerard from 1968 to 1973 before returning to St. Mary Cathedral in September 1973 as Rector. He also served as Chancellor for the Diocese of Lansing from 1968 to 1997. In addition, he served as Chaplain of the Lansing Police Department from 1972 to 1997.
Father Murray was named as Honorary Prelate (Monsignor) by Pope Saint John Paul II, on June 13, 1993. On November 18, 1997 Msgr. Murray was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, succeeding Bishop Alfred J. Markiewicz, who had died earlier that year. On January 27, 1998 he was installed as Bishop of Kalamazoo at St. Augustine Cathedral. As his motto, he chose “Rejoice in the Lord Always” [Philippians 4:4].
Bishop Murray retired as Bishop of Kalamazoo on April 6, 2009. During his more than 11 years as Bishop of Kalamazoo, he presided over 15 ordinations to the priesthood; ordained 28 men to the permanent diaconate; confirmed 14,394 young Catholics; dedicated 11 new churches and welcomed more than 3,100 new Catholics into the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults held each year during Easter Vigil Mass.
Rejoice in the Lord Always, a collection of Bishop Murray’s homilies delivered during his 24 years at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, was published in 2001.
Bishop Murray’s Funeral Mass will be held at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo with a Memorial Mass planned for a later date when current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. May he rest in peace.