Since from a mere child Donald Murrin was convinced that he wanted to be a priest, it was no surprise that he was at Saint Augustine Residence in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi in restless retirement when I arrived there in August, 2015 under the same guise. Don wanted back in a parish – in any capacity. At length, Father Paul Kahan, our Superior of the S.V.D. Southern Province, sent him to Liberty, Texas.
At Immaculate Conception Church, he helped Pastor Andy Vu, S.V.D., to care for the flock. Flashbacks played before him of his stints at various parishes that spanned Chicago and Saint Louis plus the states of Mississippi and Arkansas. Don lived his missionary quest among a people quite different from his ethnic roots.
Then pastor of Saint Peter Church and Saint Raphael Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on his 50th Priestly Anniversary in 2010, Don said, “I always wanted to be in a black parish – the humanness of it and the beauty of it – my heart was taken with the parish,” he said. “It is a beautiful place to be. It’s been a wonderful experience. It’s focused my spirituality. I feel very much a part of this faith community.”
Just when all the pieces of pastoral ministry, experience and longevity seemed to be completing the twilight of his life with fulfillment and the sum total of wisdom, an ominous, forbidding cloud appeared on the horizon. It was a very bad, advanced cancer, the doctors said, but there was no reason why Don should not be able to finish out much of his remaining months in active ministry. “As long as I can keep on going,” Don had said earlier, “I will put one foot in front of the other. As long as I can, and as long as they’ll have me, I’m committed to keep on going.”
But then the door was slammed shut by an additional piece of horrendous news on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 5:48 p.m., as Father Rick Andrus, an S.V.D. District Superior wrote to us of the district:
Good Evening, my Brothers!
I have an update I want to pass on to you.
October 16, 2017 2
Today, Gus Wall spoke with Don Murrin’s doctors. His cancer is extremely aggressive and progressing swiftly. What initially seemed like perhaps “months” and the possibility of returning to the parish a couple of weeks ago, has turned into a few short days.
Don is alert, aware of his condition and very much at peace. He has received the sacraments from Gus. His sisters have been with him as well as some friends.
When the time comes and the Lord bids him come home, there will be the two Funeral Celebrations, one in Liberty and another at the Bay, at Don’s request.
I ask you to join me and many others in keeping Don in prayer so that the time he has left is peaceful and painless, filled with complete trust in the promises of Jesus and reliance in the faith that has brought him this far.
I will keep you posted.
In the Word, I am your brother,
It defies my imagination to compare my journey with Don’s, although we must all admit that our fortunes can fall as rapidly as his at any given moment.
We thank you, our most merciful God, for filling our brother Don with such ardent faith, such undying hope and such wonderful love. And thank you, our dear brother Don, for allowing God to fashion you into such a priceless Christian piece of work.
Don, as we pray with you and for you in this your toughest hour, may God enable us to follow in your footsteps.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all.
Rev. Jerome LeDoux, SVD
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)