June 5, 2020 — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, announced the death of the Most Reverend George V. Murry, SJ, the fifth bishop of the diocese, this morning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. Bishop Murry was 71. Funeral arrangements are pending.
He battled a recurring case of leukemia and recently submitted a request for resignation as bishop to Pope Francis, citing his limited stamina and the advice of his physicians for his decision to resign.
He served as chairman of the Committee Against Racism for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and had long been respected as a leader in the Catholic church on the discussion of race. He and his role as an influential voice in the fight against racism will be missed.
In addition to listening and learning, the church must break her silence and “seek the forgiveness of those that she has victimized by her past injustices,” he said during a lecture at the Jesuits’ St. Peter's Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2018.
The church can foster reconciliation by including people of color in leadership roles and by confronting racism wherever it occurs, and must “speak and live in truth, leaving behind the comfortable attitudes of superiority and fear," he said. "To get to that truth, we must break the silent complicity with the social evil of racism.”
Fr. James Shea, SJ, with Bishop George Murry, SJ, at St. Peter's Catholic Church.
Bishop Murry was born in Camden, New Jersey, on Dec. 28, 1948, to Viola and George Vance Murry II. He was baptized into the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He attended Camden public schools but later transferred to St. Bartholomew School in Camden, where he embraced Catholicism. He advanced to Camden Catholic High School.
He then attended St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia; St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut; and St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1972.
That same year, he entered the Society of Jesus. He was ordained in the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus on June 9, 1979. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, in 1979 and a doctorate in American cultural history from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1994.
Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, gave a keynote speech at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in 2018.
Bishop Murry served on the faculty and was dean of student activities at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., from 1974-1976. He was an assistant professor of American studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from 1986-1990, and president of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., from 1989-1994. He was named associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Detroit Mercy in 1994.
On January 24, 1995, Pope John Paul II appointed him titular bishop of Fuerteventura (in the Canary Islands) and auxiliary bishop of Chicago, where he was ordained to the episcopacy on March 20, 1995. On May 5, 1998, Pope John Paul II appointed him coadjutor bishop of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and he became bishop of the diocese on June 30, 1999. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the fifth bishop of the diocese of Youngstown in 2007.
Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, is seen in St. Louis in this 2017 file photo. Bishop Murry, who submitted his resignation to Pope Francis for health reasons May 26, 2020, died June 5 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)
In 2015, Bishop Murry was appointed to serve at the Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome. That same year, then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich named Bishop Murry to the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations.
Bishop Murry served on numerous boards, including those of Saint Joseph University, the University of Detroit Mercy, Fairfield University and Walsh University.
In addition to his work as chairman of the Committee Against Racism for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he was secretary for the Conference and chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans. Additional involvements included the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty and the Committee on Catholic Education.
He also was a chairman of the board of the National Catholic Educational Association and a member of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services. [Sources: Diocese of Youngstown, Catholic News Service]