The John Courtney Murray, S.J. House is dedicated to the support and enrichment of graduate student life at Boston College. Its primary purpose is to build a sense of community among the entire graduate student population and cultivate a sense of belonging to the University as a whole.
To comply with social distancing guidelines and for the health and safety of students, any graduate student wishing to utilize the Murray House for study space must reserve a seat advance. Please review the following operating procedures and make your reservation before visiting:
If possible, please make your reservation 12 weekday hours in advance so that we can ensure availability and confirm your seat.
We will do our best to provide flexibility and accommodate last-minute reservations as they come in, but until confirmed by the Office of Graduate Student Life, no reservations are guaranteed.
Walk-ins will not be allowed at this time.
Group reservations will not be allowed at this time.
Coffee, tea, water, and the use of the kitchen is unavailable at this time.
All visitors with a confirmed reservation should ring the back (parking lot) entrance doorbell to be let into the Murray House.
Once seated, visitors will be asked to fill out a web-based check-in form.
All visitors must wear a mask.
Please note that the Office of Graduate Student Life will review this process frequently and will make updates as things change. Please continue to check back for updated information. Below are descriptions of the rooms available for reservation and their current capacity:
Murray House Space Descriptions
Fall 2020 capacity: 6
Amenities: Cable television
Fall 2020 capacity: 4
Amenities: Large study table
Fall 2020 capacity: 2
Amenities: Comfy chair and sofas
Fall 2020 capacity: 3
Amenities: Large conference table; whiteboard, flatscreen television
Fall 2020 capacity: 4
Amenities: BC printing station, computers for public use
Who Was John Courtney Murray, S.J.?
John Courtney Murray, SJ, was a member of the Society of Jesus and an American theologian. He was especially known for his efforts to reconcile Catholicism and religious pluralism, and he was instrumental in the formulation of many ground-breaking Vatican II (1962-1965) documents - most notably Gaudium et Spes [The Church in the Modern World], and Dignitatis Humanae [Declaration on Religious Freedom]. He was a friend and colleague of Karol Wojtyla during Vatican II, who eventually became the famous Pope John Paul II.
Murray was born in New York City in 1904 and entered the New York province of the Society of Jesus in 1920. He studied Classics and Philosophy at Boston College, receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in 1926 and 1927 respectively. Following graduation from BC, he travelled to the Philippines where he taught Latin and English literature at the Ateneo de Manila. He returned to the United States in 1930 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1933. He completed a doctorate in sacred theology in 1937 at the Gregorian University in Rome. Upon returning to the United States, he taught Catholic trinitarian theology at the Jesuit theologate at Woodstock, Maryland, and in 1941 was named editor of the Jesuit journal Theological Studies. He held both positions until his death in Queens, New York in 1967.
Murray became a leading public figure, and his work dealt primarily with the tensions between religion and public life. His best-known book, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition is a collection of his essays regarding these tensions, all of which are centered on the separation of church and state, allowing individuals to assume control over their own religious beliefs. Murray advocated religious freedom as defined and protected by the First Amendment, and he eventually argued that Catholic teaching on church/state relations no longer served contemporary society.
Not surprisingly, his work initially was not well received by the Church and he had to cease publishing his book for a number of years. At the time, his work seemed rather progressive, particularly with respect to accommodating ideas of religious freedom with an increasingly religiously pluralistic society. However, Murray and his work became well-known when he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in the December 12, 1960 issue, which featured "U.S. Catholics & the State" as the cover story.
Murray collaborated on a project with Robert Morrison MacIver of Columbia University to assess academic freedom and religious education in American public universities. In light of his increasingly public role, several American bishops consulted Murray on legal issues such as censorship and birth control. In 1966, prompted by the Vietnam War, Murray was appointed to serve on Lyndon Johnson's presidential commission that reviewed Selective Service classifications. He supported the allowance of a classification for those opposed on moral grounds to some (though not all) wars — a recommendation that was ultimately not accepted by the Selective Service Administration.
John Courtney Murray’s legacy at Boston College is set by his steady commitment to the promotion of progressive issues, serving as an exemplary paragon to which we may all aspire. We are honored that the Murray House is named after such an esteemed, influential individual.