Jesuit Father Maurice M. Murray died on July 11, 2014, in St. Louis. He was 79 years old and a Jesuit for nearly 62 years. Born in St. Louis on July 25, 1934, he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, on August 8, 1952. He earned a Licentiate in Philosophy at Saint Louis University in 1961. After teaching mathematics at Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, Fr. Murray studied theology at St. Mary’s College in Kansas where he earned an S.T.L. Fr. Murray was very concerned about racial equality and during studies was actively involved with groups seeking access to public accommodations and fair housing for all. He was ordained to the priesthood at St. Francis Xavier Church in St. Louis on June 8, 1966.
After tertianship in Decatur, Illinois, Fr. Murray completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1974 he joined the mathematics faculty at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and taught there for four years. Fr. Murray was a dedicated teacher. He worked very hard preparing classes, grading exams and meeting with students. Outside of school, he enjoyed assisting with a Marriage Encounter retreats.
In 1978 Fr. Murray was appointed rector of the Regis Jesuit Community where he served for three years. He was unfailingly gracious and attentive to the needs of the men in the community. During that same time he also taught mathematics at Regis University.
In 1981 Fr. Murray was assigned to Belize where he would serve for the remainder of his life. With his typical dedication, he taught mathematics and computer science at St. John’s College in Belize City for nearly 20 years. Always a loyal Jesuit and well-regarded community member, Fr. Murray was asked to serve a community consultor on more than one occasion.
In 2001 he became the associate pastor at St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda. He helped serve the Catholic community in the town as well as parishioners spread throughout 30 villages in the district. He learned some Q’eqchi’ so that he could celebrate Mass and preach simple homilies in one of the native Mayan languages. He put his computer skills to good use, creating electronic baptismal records for the parish and maintaining a spreadsheet with the schedule of presiders for town and villages. Fr. Murray was a dependable and welcoming presence in the parish and was often called upon to serve as acting pastor during times of transition or when the pastor needed a break.
Last month, Fr. Murray was visiting St. Louis when his doctors discovered that he had developed lung cancer. His health declined rapidly after that, giving him just enough time to say goodbye to family and fellow Jesuits before he died. Fr. Murray is survived by his sister, Mrs. Mary Anne Troy. May this gracious and dedicated man rest in peace.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.