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Paralyzed Priest Keeps the Faith for Divine Intervention

“The nurses, the aides, the therapists, the psychologists, they were telling me what kind of care I needed. And I kept pushing them,” he shares. “I wanted to know when I’m going to be able to walk again? Can I walk out of here?”

As a traveling preacher, Father Murray loved being on the move. But now, at 62 years old, he was bound to a wheelchair. The doctors told him that he had, “No chance for voluntary movement.”

Just three weeks earlier, Father Murray was out for a walk when he tripped and hit his head on a railing. The fall broke his neck requiring surgery and a week in an induced coma. He woke up paralyzed from the chest down, leaving him with no use of his legs and limited use of his arms.

“I cried for the first time in many years,” he shares. “But I never doubted God, you know? My first thought was, ‘I’ll show them. I’m not going to be like this the rest of my life.’”

But after months of therapy, Father Murray showed few signs of improvement. Even simple tasks like brushing his teeth took great effort.

“I was given a terrible cross to bear,” he says. “Not only was I paralyzed, but I was also adjusting mentally. I was getting bad spasms – my legs were kicking up in the air and my arms were kicking out. It slowed me down an awful lot. I was in bed from maybe one o'clock in the afternoon to-to seven o'clock the next morning.”

Still, Father Murray held on to his faith.

As he describes, “I had a cousin from Ireland write to me saying, ‘You're a good priest, you're doing a lot of good for people. How could God do this to you?’ and I was able to answer, ‘God didn't do it to me. God had nothing to do with breaking my neck. It was an accident.’”

Every day, Father Murray wrestled with his physical limitations. And every day, he chose to pray for God’s will.

“Prayer,” he remembers, “especially meditative prayer came to me. It was just more passive prayer. Not asking for anything, not even trying to think about things. It was kind of throwing open my arms and saying, ‘Do with me what you will.’ That’s when the grace came.”

And through God’s grace, Father Murray found his strength.

“I never resigned myself to it. Never, never, never. They were giving me two hours of therapy a day, and I wanted more,” he says.

Three months later, Father Murray was with family for Thanksgiving. The next day, he felt that something was different.

“I had noticed that morning,” he explains, “I was able to just move my foot that way. So I showed my brother and my sister-in-law who's a nurse practitioner, and I said, ‘That's just another spasm.’ And my sister-in-law says, ‘that's not a spasm.’”

When they realized it was voluntary movement, they had hope that God was doing a miracle.

“What’s happening here?,” he says. “What’s happening here? Maybe those doctors are wrong.” 

Father Murray prayed and pursued therapy with even more determination. He took every hint of progress as a sign that God was healing his body.

He describes, “I'd be holding on to the parallel bars and-and slowly they'd tell me, ‘Lift my foot.’ And I could lift it up, and they'd pull it forward on me. And they said, ‘Okay, lift the other foot.’ And they'd pull it forward. And that progress was an opportunity to try harder.” 
 
Then, ten months after his accident, Father Murray did something that contradicted every prognosis. Aided by a walker, he walked into the rehab center under his own power. He says his progress baffled his doctors.

As he recalls, “These doctors told me, ‘You just can't explain what has happened to you and, you can't give any kind of prognosis.’”

But Father Murray knows exactly what happened.

“I was cured because of God’s grace,” he insists. “Not only am I moving, I'm walking, I'm driving a car, I'm preaching, and to be able to do that after I was told I would have no chance of voluntary movement, I would call that a miracle.”

Today, Father Murray continues his therapy diligently. He is also back to doing what he loves, traveling to preach at various retreats and leading mass at our lady of perpetual help in Brooklyn. He gives God full credit for his healing.

“My prayer did not heal me,” he shares. “God's grace heals me. It's God's power, that's what changes me, not my own prayer.”

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