The reliable mentor
His uncle always like to hug members of his family, Murphy said. “He was my mentor since high school days,” he added. “I went in the seminary for a while; he was my mentor when I came out and went to college; he helped me get into college. I got into business, and he was always there when I had questions about this, that, or the other thing. And he was my confidante and mentor all my life.”
“He was just a special, special guy,” said a niece of the monsignor’s, Rosemary Murphy Barry, of Annandale, Va. “He was such a great example, I guess that’s the main thing. He was such a great example of how to be, of just how to live, because he was always giving.”
A master joke teller, he also was “such a voice of reason and hope,” she said.
If she was worried, he would tell her: “‘Just pray, and the Lord’ll take care of it. The Lord will take care of you and your family.’”
Asked if those words proved to be prophetic, she said, “Comforting. Comforting. I’m not going to say it was totally prophetic, but it was the comfort that he provided … the comfort and the guidance.”
Members of Msgr. McCloskey’s family have versions of the wood carving in their homes. At the reception, Rosemary and her brother James also displayed the monsignor’s white stole, which he owned for more than 30 years. Stitched into the back of it are the names of family members. Stitched into the front are a blue and gold version of the Madonna and Child carving, and a favorite saying of the monsignor’s: “May Mary keep you always in God’s love.”
Three weeks before he died, Msgr. McCloskey got a visit from Bishop Cunningham. The monsignor told the bishop he grew up in the Cathedral Parish and even served as a torchbearer for Bishop Daniel J. Curley.
Remember the fourth pew
The bishop recalls the monsignor saying, “‘You know, we always sat in the fourth pew on what they called the Gospel side in those days, so I hope that you will, whenever you pass that fourth pew, perhaps you could say a prayer for me and my family.’
“And I thought that was a beautiful memory, and a beautiful tribute to this man’s deep faith.”
After the funeral Mass, Bishop Cunningham said, some of the young priests were going to spend the afternoon in prayer for vocations to the priesthood. “We’re going to ask Msgr. McCloskey’s intercession as we do this,” the bishop said. “And we’re going to ask you to continue to pray that God will send … others to follow in his footsteps.
“There will never be another one exactly like Msgr. McCloskey. But he gives us a wonderful example to follow, and to strive for, and to try and imitate.”
The monsignor’s niece Murphy Barry will remember those caring, consecrated hands hugging her, “but I also just remember, especially in the last days when I visited him at Francis House, how he still had a good grip.
“And he would grab your hand and hold it. And it just meant so much to feel that strength still in him.”