The Most Reverend James A. Murray, Bishop Emeritus for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (1998-2009) has died. The retired bishop had recently experienced declining health and passed away peacefully on the morning of June 5, 2020. He would have celebrated his 88th birthday on July 5, 2020.
“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of our beloved Bishop Murray,” said Most Rev. Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. “He would have celebrated the 62nd anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood on Sunday, June 7, 2020.
“I was grateful to be able to visit him and relay how grateful we all are to him for his leadership as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, and since his retirement, for his wonderful priestly example of providing pastoral assistance wherever and whenever he could, and for being such an exemplary priest and bishop of Jesus Christ.”
Ordained a priest in 1958 for the Diocese of Lansing, Bishop Murray served the people of the Diocese of Lansing prior to becoming the third Bishop of Kalamazoo in 1998 following the death of Bishop Alfred J. Markiewicz. During his time as Bishop of Kalamazoo, he has presided over 15 ordinations to the priesthood; 28 men ordained to the permanent diaconate; confirmed 14,394 young Catholics; dedicated 11 new churches and welcomed more than 3,100 new Catholics into the community through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) held each year during Easter Vigil Mass. (See below for full biographical information.)
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Augustine Cathedral, 545 W. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo with a Memorial Mass planned for later when current restrictions are lifted. The final details are pending.
Most Rev. James A. Murray, third bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, was born, July 5, 1932, in Jackson, Michigan to James and Clare Murray. He attended St. Mary Elementary School, Jackson, MI; he graduated from St. Mary High School, Jackson, MI.; and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit. His additional academic degrees include Bachelor of Theology, St. John Seminary, Catholic University of America; and a Licentiate of Canon Law, Catholic University of America.
Bishop Murray was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lansing by Bishop Joseph H. Albers on June 7, 1958 at St. Mary Cathedral, Lansing. Father Murray served as assistant pastor of St. Joseph in St. Joseph, MI (June 1958-June 1961). He then became assistant pastor of St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing from June 1961- September 1962. Upon his return from a two year sabbatical at Catholic University of America, he served as assistant pastor at two other parishes in Lansing: St. Therese, (from June 1964- August 1968 and St. Gerard from 1968-1973) before returning to St. Mary Cathedral in September 1973 as Rector. He also served as Chancellor for the Diocese of Lansing from 1968-1997. In addition, he served as Chaplain of the Lansing Police Department from 1972-1997.
Father Murray was named as Honorary Prelate (Monsignor) by Pope John Paul II, June 13, 1993. On November 18, 1997, Msgr. Murray was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, succeeding Bishop Alfred J. Markiewicz, who died January 9, 1997. On January 27, 1998, he was installed as Bishop at St. Augustine Cathedral. As his motto, Bishop Murray chose “Rejoice in the Lord Always” [Philippians 4:4].
Bishop Murray retired on April 6, 2009. During his more than 11 years as Bishop of Kalamazoo, Bishop Murray has been honored to celebrate the Sacraments with the community. During his time as Bishop of Kalamazoo, he has presided over 15 ordinations to the priesthood; 28 men ordained to the permanent diaconate; confirmed 14,394 young Catholics; dedicated 11 new churches and welcomed more than 3,100 new Catholics into the community through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) held each year during Easter Vigil Mass.
Rejoice in the Lord Always, a collection of Bishop Murray’s homilies delivered during his twenty-four years at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, was published in 2001.