Msgr. Joseph W. Murray enjoyed a zest for life and could light up a room with the smile he constantly wore. And he was always willing to get a niece or nephew out of a tight spot.
“He was just very positive, very funny, and enjoyed all the little things,” said niece Mariann Benevour. “He was the funny uncle for sure growing up. If you got in trouble, you went to Uncle Joe. He would give us words of advice and schmooze it over with our mother.”
Msgr. Murray, 87, originally from the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, died Saturday, April 18, at Suburban Community Hospital in Montgomery County of respiratory failure, a complication of the coronavirus.
In a family of six children, Msgr. Murray was one of three who entered the priesthood, having been ordained in 1961 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. He spent more than 20 years at archdiocesan high schools, much of it as a teacher and principal at Bishop Kenrick High School in Norristown.
“From what I understand, from what people tell me, [students] did want to talk to him,” Benevour said. "He was a people’s priest for sure, and he loved those high school years. The kids loved him. They said he was very approachable and he was very fair.”
Msgr. Murray became pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Philadelphia in 1985 and moved to St. Stanislaus Parish in 1989, where he stayed until his retirement in 2008.
“He was a very outgoing man, very friendly, and he was with family wherever he was,” said brother Msgr. Thomas A. Murray. “He had a great sense of humor. He cared about everybody, listened to everybody. He was certainly a great influence on all of us.”
A graduate of La Salle College High School, he earned a master’s degree from what is now La Salle University in 1974. He was named a monsignor in 1991.
In addition to his brother, Msgr. Murray is survived by brothers, Ignatius and John, along with several nieces and nephews.
Funeral and burial will be private.