McMurry, Father Vincent DePaul, P.S.S.

2016, July 24

Date of Birth: 1924, October 1

“God desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service.” This quote from St. Irenaeus is a fitting caption for the life of Vincent dePaul McMurry, who enjoyed the benefits of God’s grace for sixty-nine years as a priest and ninety-one years of life.

Vincent dePaul McMurry was born on October 1, 1924 in Nashville, TN to Vincent and Augusta (Delaigre) McMurry. He is survived by his brother, Fr. John McMurry, P.S.S., his sister, Mary (Hoenigman), two nephews, John and Vincent (Hoenigman), and one niece, Ammon Marie (Hoenigman).

Fr. McMurry was ordained for the Diocese of Nashville, TN in 1949. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s Seminary on Paca Street in Baltimore in 1945. He went on to do his theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary, Roland Park, where he earned his S.T.B. in 1947 and the S.T.L. in 1949. He then completed the M.A. degree in history at The Catholic University of America in 1951, after writing a thesis entitled, “The Catholic Church During Reconstruction, 1865-1877.”

As a Sulpician candidate, he served for one year (1950-1951) on the high school faculty of St. Charles College in Catonsville, MD where he taught Greek, Latin, English, French, and Religion. After completing Solitude (1951-1952), he was admitted to the Society of St. Sulpice in 1952. For the next eighteen years (1952-1970) at St. Thomas Seminary in Louisville, KY, Fr. McMurry taught English, history, public speaking, religion, science, and French. He also served as librarian and Master of Ceremonies. He holds the distinction of being the only Sulpician to remain on the faculty of St. Thomas continuously during the entire eighteen years that the school was in existence. Those years at St. Thomas were the golden years of his life. He was even awarded the honorary title “Kentucky Colonel” by the Governor of Kentucky for his faithful service. So he was sad to see the school close in 1970.

After a sabbatical year (1970-1971), he was assigned to St. Mary’s Seminary College, Catonsville, MD (1971 – 1977) to teach history and English and also serve as secretary to the faculty. During that period, the College developed a pre-theology program. So, when the college closed, he was assigned to St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore (1977-1993) where he moderated the pre-theology program and taught history. He was best known as a spiritual director and advisor of many seminarians. He retired in 1993 and lived in retirement for the next twenty-three years, first in residence at St. Mary’s Seminary and University for six years (1993-1999) and then at St. Charles Villa in Catonsville, where he lived for seventeen years until his death in 2016.

When he was asked by his brother, John, on the occasion of his fiftieth anniversary of priesthood, what was the high point of his life, Fr. McMurry unhesitatingly declared, “To be a priest and a Sulpician.” His love for being a Sulpician priest was already foreshadowed as a seminarian when he was given the nickname, “Mr. Sulpician.”

During his Sulpician ministry, Fr. McMurry embodied the old Sulpician adage, “Gardez la residence,” for he is remembered as the one “who stayed home and did his work.” Fr. McMurry was a gracious priest, a host of other people’s souls. His presence was a hospitable home with his door always open. His room in the seminary and at the Villa displayed a gallery of photographs of his family and many of the seminarians and priests who not only crossed his path but also sat down and stayed a while to talk heart to heart. Fr. McMurry is well remembered for his closeness to his immediate and extended family, and for creating hospitable space for the seminarians for whom he served as an advisor or spiritual director, as well as for many lay and religious who sought his counsel. During his later years, he stayed in touch with many via e-mail.

As a community man, Fr. McMurry loved to play cards. He could often be found around the card table playing euchre. He also had a great love for baseball, especially the St. Louis Cardinals. He would frequently be seen sporting the Cardinals’ ball cap and he displayed the Louisville Slugger baseball bat in his room.

Fr. McMurry died on July 24, 2016 at St. Charles Villa, Catonsville, MD. The Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on August 3, 2016 in the Villa chapel with the Provincial, John C. Kemper, P.S.S. as celebrant and Fr. McMurray’s brother, Fr. John McMurry, P.S.S., as homilist. Burial followed in the Sulpician Cemetery, Catonsville, MD.

During his sixty-nine years as a priest, Fr. McMurry fulfilled the vision of St. Irenaeus: “The glory of humankind is to persevere and remain in the service of God.” He did indeed persevere, and in doing so has given glory to God through his service in the Sulpician community. Such perseverance and service will remain his lasting witness to all those who not only crossed his path but also sat down to entrust their souls to him.

Richard M. Gula, P.S.S.

Director of Personnel