Hi there, and welcome to my blog! Today would be the 100th birthday of my dear friend Monsignor James McCloskey. Although he passed away November 25th, 2017, he is still sorely missed. Monsignor, or Father Jim as he referred to himself, was someone who connected with people wherever he went. I am thankful that we formed a very special bond over the nearly 20 years that we knew each other.
What made Monsignor special? I think it was his desire to lift people up, and to share with everyone his love of Jesus. He always greeted you with a compliment. Always! And he always finished the conversation with a joke. I don’t know how he remembered all of his jokes, because he had so many that he would tell!
I think that through his many years of living life, and being very close to those he loved, he gained an invaluable insight into people, relationships, and life itself. I learned to never underestimate his knowledge in areas where I wouldn’t think he’d have much experience (like teens, for example). He had walked with so many people before me, on their journey through the toddler years, the teen years, marriage, loss – all aspects of life! Truly, he’d been through it all, felt their pain, enjoyed their happiness, and supported them through their loss.
My loss. My sister died suddenly when I was 33 years old, and she was 35. It was the most difficult time of my life. I was numb most of the time. But when I’d go to church and kneel to pray, it was like the floodgates would open. The tears flowed whenever I was in church, despite my being able to hold it together everywhere else, which distressed me even more. Monsignor was so kind to me, and told me it was perfectly O.K. to cry in church, in God’s home, as it was where I was most comfortable to do so. Of course there wasn’t a separate church life and ‘regular life’, it was all one Christian life, where he effortlessly reached out to those in need.
Monsignor was very proud of his Irish heritage, and I think he was excited for us when we moved to Ireland. We still kept in touch after the move. In fact, if Monsignor hadn’t heard from me in a while, he’d either send me an email or call me on the phone ‘just to make sure we’re all doing O.K.’! My visits back to see him were very special. We’d usually go to breakfast after he said morning mass (he had a devoted congregation who adored him and his homilies), always to eat, talk and share.
We (my husband and I) were so fortunate to have visited with him just a few months before he passed away. We had a lovely visit! As always, he was in great spirits and we enjoyed each other’s company. It was shortly after that visit when his health really began to decline. We continued to speak on the telephone over the next few months. His spirits remained high and he was completely at peace. On one of our last phone calls, he told me he’d always be with me, that he’s just changing address.
I’m so thankful that Monsignor was my friend and mentor for so many years, looking out for me, guiding me, and supporting me. I miss him. But I’m grateful to have his love in my heart. Until we meet again, Happy Birthday Monsignor. ❤️
This was on our last visit, the summer of 2017. Monsignor was, as always, in great form and full of chat and a great listener.
My husband joined me on this visit. Monsignor always had a joke to tell!
Monsignor James McCloskey celebrated Cliona’s Christening.
Monsignor was a hands-on priest, who simply connected with us. Here he is with Cliona as a baby.
Monsignor was always around for church events, to say hello to everyone, but especially the little ones (this was probably a breakfast). Here he is with Cliona.
This was on one of my visits home, at our mutual friend, Lisa’s house.
This is me, Monsignor and Lisa on an earlier visit home. Don’t you love Monsignor’s bib? 🙂
This is some of the wonderful staff at Immaculate Conception Parish in Fayetteville, New York, along with Monsignor James McCloskey. It’s the wonderful people of a parish who make the parish life what it is. I’m so thankful to have been part of such a loving and giving community.
This little garden area was special because Monsignor could enjoy this view while in his sitting room, and he could also enjoy the birdsong, which he so loved.
The feature photo is of Immaculate Conception Parish’s grotto where the statue of the Blessed Mary is. Mary was very special to Monsignor, and I think it is fitting here.
Such a wonderful, full life to celebrate! 🙂