Father McCluskey sprinkled in humor with his service
June 24, 2022
Father James McCluskey was someone people could turn to for advice and counsel – and certainly for a good laugh, those who knew him said.
“He had a great sense of humor,” said Father Gerald Connealy, a longtime friend who serves as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Laurel, St. Anne Parish in Dixon and St. Mary Parish in Wayne.
“You couldn’t be with him for five minutes without laughing,” Father Connealy said of his friend, mentor, advisor and confessor.
Father McCluskey served “faithfully – and also hilariously and joyfully, as was his nature,” said Father Scott Hastings, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Springfield and vicar for clergy and judicial vicar for the archdiocese.
Father McCluskey died June 22 at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk. He was 79.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. June 29 at St. Mary Church in Wayne with burial at Calvary Cemetery in Newcastle. A vigil service is planned for 7 p.m. June 28 at the church.
Father McCluskey, known to most people as “Father Mac,” was a native of Newcastle who ministered entirely at rural parishes and schools during his 54 years as a priest.
He graduated from Newcastle High School in 1960 before attending the former St. John Vianney Minor Seminary in Elkhorn from 1960 to 1962 and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, from 1962 to 1964.
He graduated from the former St. Thomas Seminary in Denver in 1968 with a master’s degree in religious education and in 1982 earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling from Creighton University in Omaha.
After his 1968 ordination, Father McCluskey served as assistant pastor of St. Mary Parish in West Point until 1970 and of St. Patrick Parish in O’Neill from 1970 to 77.
He served as a pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish in Raeville from 1977 to 1988, St. Michael in South Sioux City from 1988 1990, St. Stanislaus in Duncan from 1990 to 1998, St. Mary in Wayne from 1998 to 2003, St. Mary in Laurel and St. Anne in Dixon from 2003 to 2013.
Father McCluskey was also a teacher at West Point (now Guardian Angels) Central Catholic School in West Point, a teacher and counselor at St. Mary School in O’Neill and was president of Pope John XXIII Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Elgin.
He retired to Wayne in 2013 but continued assisting at parishes until May, Father Connealy said.
Father McCluskey enjoyed watching sports, especially Nebraska football and NASCAR, and playing golf, according to a memorial tribute from Hasemann Funeral Home in Wayne.
He was preceded in death by parents,William and Lucille (Gath) McCluskey; sisters Mary Margaret (Ralph) M. Noecker, Lou Anne (Jack) Guy, and Marilyn McCluskey; brother Robert T. “Bob” McCluskey; and sister-in-law Charlene McCluskey.
Survivors include brothers William “Bill” McCluskey of Downey, California, Tom (Diane) of Newcastle and Don (Helen) of Indianapolis; nieces and nephews; and parish families.