Bicentennial Moments and Memories: Remembrances of Msgr. Edward Murray

We were sitting at a table in the Four Provinces tavern in Roslindale Square, four or five of us drinking “dimies,” a small glass of tap beer for a dime. We were in our early 20s, a couple of us veterans of the Korean War. The subject of our conversation was -- as you would expect with such young men -- women. Or more specifically sex in and out of marriage.

One of us, his name will not be recorded here despite the fact that he is now dead, brought up a question embarrassing enough to bring color to some faces. Well, as the discussion went on, the instigator thought it best that we ask a priest so he got up and called the rectory of our parish, Sacred Heart. As it happened, the pastor, Msgr. Edward G. Murray answered the phone. The upshot of the conversation was that he invited us to come to the rectory once a month to discuss such matters.

Those first-Monday-of-every-month young men’s discussion groups offered us the opportunity not only to talk about the questions of faith and morals facing young Catholic men with the erudite Msgr. Murray but to be introduced to others we would have never met if it were not for him -- such as the famous Jesuit, Father John Lafarge and Bishop John J. Wright before he went to the Vatican.

Father Murray came to Sacred Heart Parish in 1951, the first pastor to be born in the 20th century, and came with an impressive resume. Born in the Back Bay section of Boston, Ed Murray graduated from the Prince School, Boston Latin and received his bachelor’s degree cum laude at the College of the Holy Cross. He spent a year at Harvard Law School, entered St. John’s Seminary, was chosen to complete his studies at the North American College in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome in 1930. Three years after being assigned to teach at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Father Murray was appointed its rector, the youngest leader of a major seminary in the United States.

Urbane, ever sophisticated, and as the Boston Globe once described him -- “sometimes warm, sometimes distant,” the new pastor was not overly popular with some of his parishioners, who felt, as one old Irish woman, a staple of the parish, put it “talks down to us.” And soon enough he got into an imbroglio with the Roslindale community.

Facing extreme overcrowding in the parish’s school -- St. Francis Xavier -- Father Murray, in conjunction with nearby Holy Name Parish, West Roxbury, proposed to purchase the Washington Irving Public School, which stood just down Cummins Highway from the church. That the archdiocesan authorities knew of his plans there is no doubt, whether or not they approved of them became a matter of dispute.

Msgr. Murray claimed that enrollment at the Washington Irving had declined 40 percent in the last decade and if he could not buy the school, he would build a new, larger parochial school which would draw even more pupils away from the public school.

A public meeting, attended by 500 people, met to oppose the proposed purchase. In face of the now vocal opposition, which included the Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools Dennis C. Healy, the offer to purchase Washington Irving was withdrawn. Three years later, on October 23, 1954, Archbishop Richard Cushing laid the cornerstone of a new 18 classroom Sacred Heart Grammar School on what had been an open and often soggy field on Canterbury Street.

The true legacy of Father Murray lies not in his intellect, nor his years as rector of the seminary nor as pastor for 20 years of a large parish, nor in the public posts he held -- president of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library, trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, nor in the honors he received -- Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France and Cavallere dell’Ordine Al Merito of Italy, but rather in the furthering of a movement that he espoused early on, even before most people had heard of it, let alone could spell it -- the ecumenical movement.

Based on the supposition that God is the Father of us all -- Catholic, Protestant, Jew and Muslim, and thus we are all brothers and sisters, the movement sought to heal the divisions, close the gaps of understanding and tolerance between the various faiths. Not an easy task in those days of suspicion and mistrust and not a universally popular one in a city where such enmity was of long standing and for some, even a matter of pride.

For his work as advisor to Cardinal Cushing during the Second Vatican Council, Father Murray was lauded by Harvard theologian James Luther Adams as “an effective guide for non-Catholic observers.” Rabbi Marc Tennenbaum claimed: “We owe Msgr. Murray an enormous debt of gratitude for the quiet, patient, influential role he played at Cardinal Cushing’s side.”

Neil J. Savage was born and still lives in Boston. He is a former Associate Commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission and served as a member of the Massachusetts State Archives Commission.

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Nation
Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

World
Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

World
Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

World
After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

Nation
DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

World
Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

Nation
What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

World
'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

World
Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Nation
Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...