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Remembering Past President Dr. Kevin Murrell

May 21, 2024

The Catholic Medical Association lost a beloved past president, Dr. Kevin Murrell. Dr. Murrell entered peacefully into rest on Friday, April 12, 2024, at home and surrounded by his family.

Dr. Murrell’s faith and friendship inspired many in the organization.

Dr. Murrell served as president from 1994 to 1995 and was instrumental in starting the Atlanta Guild of the CMA in 1996, providing encouragement, words of advice and traveling from Augusta, Georgia to Atlanta to give the inaugural address at the first White Mass and dinner. He also served as treasurer and the North American representative of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (F.I.A.M.C.).

He and his wife, Karen, were powerful witnesses to living out a truly Catholic medical marriage with all of its challenges. They were married over half a century (56 years). He experienced great joy in his roles as husband, father, grandfather and psychiatrist.

During his presidency, the annual conference attendance was fewer than 100, but he made many suggestions for improving and growing CMA which were implemented ten years later and led to CMA’s renewal. He faithfully attended most of the annual conferences, even after he developed Parkinson’s. He was a quiet, peaceful, thoughtful presence at countless CMA Board meetings over the years and a true friend to many CMA members.

CMA Past President Dr. Richard Watson (’98-’99) credits the late Dr. Murrell for having a major impact on his life, a statement repeated by many friends and colleagues.

“He was the epitome of what it means to be a truly Catholic physician –– caring and selfless in the tradition of Hippocrates and of Saint Luke. A respected leader in Catholic health care on the national and international level –– a champion of pro-life values and a fellow veteran,” he wrote on Dr. Murrell’s obituary page. “He was my role model, a constant source of motivation and encouragement, my prayer partner and my good friend. Heaven has gained another ‘Beloved Physician,’ (Colossians 4:14), with Christus Medicus – Christ the Divine Physician – now by his side.”

It was this same witness of faith that also transformed the life of CMA member Dr. John Littell, over their 30-year friendship. He thanks God for experiencing His love through his dear friend Dr. Murrell, who on several occasions gave him guidance and encouragement that led him to be a better husband, father, son and physician, he said. In fact, it was due to Dr. Murrell’s sage spiritual advice that Dr. Littell reconciled with his estranged father.

“I shared with Kevin my frustration with my father. I honestly had tried to disown him as my father several years after his divorce from my mother, and had just had a major argument with him,” Dr. Littell explained. “After counseling from Kevin, I resolved to call my father and apologize for my angry words. That single act led to a complete transformation of my relationship with my father, with whom I remained close until he died peacefully on Good Friday, 2023. Of note, my father over subsequent years apologized often for having not been a better father –– and even apologized to my Mom for not being a better husband –– all after I chose to follow Kevin’s advice and reconcile with him” (Dr. Littell’s full account can be read here.)

Born in Brooklyn, NY to Irish parents, Dr. Murrell was an army veteran and served as a medivac helicopter pilot in Vietnam, era 1967/68. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. As a psychiatrist, he served as an associate professor at MCG for over a decade, and he worked at Community Mental Health, the VA, and Serenity Behavioral Health. He had a great compassion for his patients and he found joy in seeing and helping people become who God intended for them to be.

At the heart of Dr. Murrell’s life was his faith, the fruits of which were seen both in his work and his personal life and contributed greatly to the spiritual life of CMA.

“Aware that we cannot fulfill our vocations as Catholic physicians unless we have a sound spiritual life, he was a member of the CMA’s FIRE committee for many years, providing suggestions and most of all prayer support for the work of the committee,” said FIRE Committee Chair and Past President Dr. Kathleen Raviele. “His commitment to the CMA assures us that he is interceding for us in eternity and we should pray for him and all our deceased members each day.”