Now, four years later, the 66-year-old cleric is praising the healing powers of prayer after regaining use of his legs.
“I consider it a miracle,” Murray told the Daily News.
Murray’s miraculous journey began on the picturesque boardwalk in Long Branch on Aug. 27, 2010.
As soon as he hit the ground following his tumble, Murray knew he was severely injured.
He was still conscious but couldn’t feel his lower body.
Murray was eventually transferred to the Kessler Institute in West Orange, one of the premier clinics for treating spinal injuries.
It was there that he was told he would never walk again.
“It was the most depressing day of my life,” said Murray, who is currently assigned to the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park.
“Imagine being told that…But God had nothing to do with it. It was an accident. God didn’t want it to happen, but slowly, the miracle happened.”
After a few months at Kessler, Murray was transferred to the Stella Maris Nursing Home in Timonium, Maryland.
He was doing intensive physical therapy — two hours a day with a specialist and extra rehabilitation exercises on his own.
The day after Thanksgiving, out of the blue Murray felt a twitch in his left foot.
“I thought it was a spasm at first, but then I started going like this,” he said, tapping his left foot.
“It was very emotional for me. But a miracle is not magic. In response to my prayers comes god’s grace.
“I asked and received the Holy Spirit,” he added. “The Holy Spirit brings with it power and grace, and grace is the key. I’m not totally passive, I have to cooperate with the graces.”
In April of the following year, aided by a troupe of physical therapists, Murray took his first few steps inside parallel bars.
Murray’s legs kept growing stronger. So much so that in July 2012, he walked into the Kessler Institute with the help of a walker.
“They were just astonished,” Murray said.
A priest with the Redemptorist order of the Catholic Church for more than 40 years, Murray spent much of his time as a traveling preacher before his accident.
“I sensed a call; that’s how it all begins,” Murray said.
“Now, I’m a special model of God’s graces.”
He celebrates mass several times a week at the Sunset Park church, a couple of blocks away from where he was born.
The church is set up for assisted living, but Murray’s mobility is better than many others residing there.
He gets around using a mix of crutches, a walker and occasionally a wheelchair. “I’m pretty independent compared to the others,” Murray said.
The resilient priest performs physical therapy several times a week and remains hopeful that he’ll continue to progress. “I’m still recouping,” Murray said.
The doctors thought I wouldn’t be able to move again. Now look how far I’ve come. I take it one day at a time.”
For Christmas, Murray is planning to travel to West Milford, N.J., to spend time with his family.
As always, he’ll be thanking the heavens for his remarkable turnaround.
“Prayer is powerless. It’s God’s graces that comes of prayer that are powerful,” Murray said.
“I have a deeper faith and a deeper appreciation of God’s grace. He is constantly bombarding us with his gifts…It’s not all God’s grace, it’s God’s grace that begins it all.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Daily News