Date of death: 10/31/2011

Saint Meinrad Class: T 1993

From Rev. James M. Murray, O.S.B., a monk of St. Bede Abbey, died peacefully in the abbey infirmary after a long struggle with cancer.The monastic community will receive Fr. James’ body in a rite at the abbey church at 4 p.m. Friday and there at 7 p.m. will conduct a vigil service, which the public is welcome to attend. The monks will celebrate a funeral Mass, to which the public is likewise invited, at 11 a.m. Saturday with Abbot Philip Davey, O.S.B., presiding. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Shields Funeral Chapel in Oglesby.Fr. James was born Oct. 27, 1926, in Schenectady, N.Y., the eldest of four sons of Michael and Beatrice (Audet) Murray. He attended local schools, graduating from Mount Pleasant High School, Schenectady, in 1944. He then enrolled at Union College, Schenectady, but shortly thereafter was inducted into the U.S. Army. After serving for a year as an Army personnel clerk in Europe, he received an honorable discharge and resumed studies at Union College, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1950.In 1955, Fr. James married Michelle Freedman. They had four children, David (Germaine) of St. Louis, Mo., Jonathan (Elizabeth) of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Sarah (Cassandra) of Alameda, Calif., and Matthew (Janine) of the Bronx, New York, N.Y. Mrs. Murray, a highly regarded poet and reviewer of poetry for numerous publications, passed away in 1974, leaving him to raise their four children, then ranging in age from 18 to 8, as a single father.In the early 1950s, Fr. James worked in banking. He then held various major administrative positions in the area of personnel for, successively, the Bureau of Public Roads of the Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.; the central personnel office of the District of Columbia; and the District’s Department of Sanitary Engineering.In 1969, a year after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., when racial tensions were at their peak in the District of Columbia and across the nation, Fr. James was hired to served as personnel director of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the first civilian ever to hold that post. In that capacity he used highly innovative techniques to recruit a total of almost 2,000 additional officers for force, greatly increasing the number of African American and other minority members, and adding as well a good proportion of Ivy League graduates and women. He was also instrumental in securing for female officers full police responsibilities instead of duties limited to matters concerning women and children.In 1974, Fr. James became evaluation manager of the U.S. Civil Service Commission in Washington, heading a staff that oversaw the application of federal personnel policies in at least half of the extant federal departments and agencies. He retired in 1979 to devote himself more fully to the raising of his family.An inner spiritual journey culminated in his entering the monastery in 1985. He professed first vows Jan. 1, 1987. In 1989 he began studies for the priesthood at Saint Meinrad School of Theology, Saint Meinrad, Ind., from which he received his Master of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees in 1993. He was ordained June 5 of that year.For several years, Fr. James taught the course in marriage to St. Bede Academy seniors and for two decades served as director of oblates for St. Bede Abbey. He was much in demand as a retreat master and as a confessor and a spiritual director for both Catholic clergy and lay people of the local area. His youngest son, Matthew, recounted much of his life story in a 1999 memoir titled The Father and the Son.”Fr. James was preceded in death by his parents and brothers. He is survived by his monastic confreres and by his children, their spouses and four grandchildren.”