Un Rayon de Lumière: Remembering Sister Jean Murray

Sister Jean Murray. Photo Courtesy: Trudi Goggin

By: Sabrina Henderson

Multimedia Editor

Sr. Jean C. Murray, the last Sinsinawa Sister to be President of the University, has passed away on Feb. 14, at the age of 91.

She left a legacy of multiple feats and memories with those who have met and worked with her.

A faculty email sent by University President Donna Carroll, on Thursday, Nov. 14, captures an essences of Sr. Murray’s legacy on campus. “Even as her body was failing, her spirit was inspiring,” said Sr. Melissa Waters. “The prayers that carried Jean into Heaven were in French and English,” she wrote.

The email was well received by faculty members who worked with Sr. Jean. Professor in marketing and international business and who have known the late sister for 46 years, remembers sister Jean as a good leader. “She was always learning and very interested in new things,” she states.

She mentions how Sr. Jean would never speak ill. She knew how to thoroughly engage with students and wanted to make sure everyone around her had a good time.

Sr. Jean is remembered as a woman who had “wonderful qualities.” She loved to cook homemade meals, an avid reader and a lover of French language and culture. She earned a B.A in French in Rosary College and eventually earned a PhD in French in the University of Fribourg. She was a professor of French and started the Rosary-in-Fribourg study program.

She created an annual trip to southern France called the Fanjeaux Pilgrimage, to follow the footsteps of St. Dominic. Students and Faculty members would often accompany her on these trips. Dean of Students, Trudi Goggin, is one of the members. “It was very important for Sr. Jean, that she help us understand another’s culture and not make a judgement about them or give them a reason to make a judgement about us.”

Sr. Jean managed to take the trip to France for Fanjeaux Pilgrimage and the Dominican Jubilee for 20 years, with only missing one trip,asshewasbattlingcancer,in which she was able to overcome.

The French government awarded her the Les Palmes Acaswmiques, an academic honor, in 1978 for her publications on French Author, George Bernanos and for her contributions in promoting French education and culture.

One lesser known fact about Sr. Jeans is that she oversaw the construction of the Igini Sports Forum, as she saw the need for the then Rosary Beads basketball team to have a gym that was up-to-date and to host games. The gym is still used by the Dominican Star Athletics teams and even community teams.

Sr. Jeans is remembered as a kind hearted and accepting woman who helped others and was a care taker. She was very close with Sr. Philip Mary, OP and while living on campus, she took new sisters under her wing. Sr. Marcella Hermesdorf remembers Sr. Jean as a mentor. “She helped me learn my way around [Rosary College], so that I felt a part of this community. Both as a teacher and as a Sister who lived in the convent.”

Though retired, she made frequent trips to Dominican, making her no stranger to current students. In 2012, the centennial residence hall was renamed Murray hall in her honor.

Sr. Jean Murray will always be remembered as a beacon of light to all those who have known her, un rayon de lumière. She will forever be an inspiration to the students and faculty members who know the legacy of Sr. Jean C. Murray, Op.


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