‘A priest for all of us’

His Mass and his people’

   This was Msgr. McCloskey’s routine, Father Ryan said: “He would rise for morning prayer and Mass; but prior to Mass, he would stop in church and pause at the 12th Station of the Cross, the Crucifixion, then proceed to reverence the Tabernacle and finally go to the statue of the Infant of Prague for a moment of prayer.”

   The 9 a.m. Mass was “his Mass and his people!” Father Ryan said. 

   In the afternoon the monsignor would often have lunch with his friend Daniel Brown. Then he would visit Immaculate Conception School, walk the campus praying the rosary, and visit neighbors. Then, Father Ryan said, came “a long dinner that often engaged us in theological or pastoral issues — and you knew it was going to be a long, drawn-out affair as he regularly finished one conversation and began another saying ‘Anyway …!’”

   Father Ryan noted the devoted care given to the monsignor by parishioners, friends, Dr. Vic Croglio, and nieces and nephews. “Monsignor had a deep love for his family,” Father Ryan said.

Heeding Msgr. Watley’s advice

   The monsignor’s nephew and godson, Charles C. McCloskey III, delivered the Words of Remembrance at the Mass. He said his uncle grew up in Syracuse and worked at the A&P grocery store for free so that he could learn the job. “When he started getting paid,” Charles said, “he said his average wage worked out to four and a half cents per hour. He also sold magazines and mowed lawns” because times were not easy.

   He went to Cathedral High School, and Msgr. Martin J. Watley told him: “‘You’d be a dummy if you don’t go to seminary.’” He was ordained in 1946.
   Charles quoted a 12-year-old Immaculate Conception School student saying about Msgr. McCloskey: “‘He always compliments someone for no reason; he just does it to be nice.’”

   “I close simply,” Charles said, “in the way that Father Jim would always close: ‘Peace.’”

   At the reception after the funeral, Msgr. McCloskey’s nephew James Murphy, of Camillus, said the wood carving of the Madonna and Child always hung in a prominent place in all of the monsignor’s different residences over the years.

   “And he was specific in his instructions to me for his funeral arrangements … that a) it be there, b) it be on his casket, and c) that there would be an acknowledgement that his brother carved it.”

   The monsignor’s favorite song on the piano, Murphy said, was Liebesträume by Franz Liszt, “and he knew it by heart, and when he played it, it was beautiful.” One of the classic family photos shows James playing piano with his uncle. “It kind of runs in the family,” he said.

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