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Neil McCluskey

By Harold Daly Horell


NEIL G. MCCLUSKEY (born December 15, 1920 - May 27, 2008): journalist, professor, administrator, popular lecturer and presenter, historian, philosopher of education, Catholic educator, religious educator and gerontological educator. McCluskey was a member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) for nearly forty years of his life. He is known for his outgoing and friendly manner and quick wit. He insightfully addressed critical issues in the development of public and Catholic Education in the United States during the historically significant periods before and after the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church (1962-1965). McCluskey is known best for his discussions of educational theory and practice in Catholic Viewpoint on Education (1959) and Catholic Education Faces Its Future (1968). His work continues to help religious educators understand the distinctive nature of religious education; and how a person can be rooted in a specific faith tradition or community, and, yet, remain open to dialogue with those from other faith traditions or communities. McCluskey's work also remains relevant to contemporary debates about state support for private schools and whether or not U. S. public and private schools can and should provide moral education.


Early Life

Neil Gerard McCluskey is the fourth of six children born to Patrick John and Mary Genevieve (Casey) McCluskey in Seattle, Washington. He attended several Catholic parochial schools and O'Dea Catholic High School in Seattle. In 1938 he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). In 1944 McCluskey received his A.B. degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington with a double major in English and psychology. An M.A. in philosophy from Gonzaga followed in 1945. For three years he then taught English and Latin at Bellarmine Preparatory School, the Jesuit high school in Tacoma, Washington. In 1952 he received an S.T.L. (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) from Alma College, now the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

While at Alma College, McCluskey enrolled in a seminar devoted to discussing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Everson and McCollum cases. This discussion had a lasting impact on his scholarly interests. (In the Preface to his first book, Public Schools and Moral Education , McCluskey wrote: "Nearly ten years ago a group of theological students in California met in seminar to discuss the Church-State aspects of the controversy over the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Everson and McCollum cases. One by-product of the seminar sessions was a firmer conviction in the author's mind that the fervor of the controversy could be accounted for only by something deeper than the arguments aired in public." (p. vii). The analysis in this and the next two paragraphs is based upon McCluskey's comments, when interviewed, in response to questions about what he saw as the deeper significance of the Everson and McCollum cases.) In the 1947 Everson case the court ruled that a New Jersey law that provided bus transportation for parochial school pupils was not in violation of either the state or federal constitutions. In the 1948 McCollum case the Supreme Court deemed that a voluntary religious instruction program in the Champaign, Illinois public schools was in violation of the no establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The phrase "make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is generally known as "the no establishment of religion clause." I refer later in this entry to the phrase "make no law …prohibiting the free exercise thereof [religion]" as the "freedom of religion clause.") Much of the discussion of these two cases focused on if, and if so under what conditions, state or local governments or the federal government could provide support for private, religiously-affiliated schools and programs.

McCluskey recognized that, in addition to the issue of governmental support for religiously-affiliated schools and programs, the cases raised two foundational and interrelated educational concerns. First, McCluskey noted that the contradictory decisions in the Everson and McCollum cases reflected a lack of consensus in the United States about governmental support for religious and moral instruction. On the one hand, common (or public) schools in the American colonies and then, the newly formed republic, had assumed from their founding a responsibility for religious and moral/character education. On the other hand, as the United States became more religiously diverse and pluralistic, people began to question whether public schools could still provide religious and moral instruction without favoring some religious groups, and in the process violating the rights of others. Hence, while many continued to regard religious and especially moral formation as essential dimensions of education that should be supported by the government, there was also a trend to limit governmental support to secular education that did not favor the religious or moral conviction of any specific group.

Second, McCluskey argued that for Catholics the Everson and McCollum cases raised serious questions about how Catholics in the United States can and should relate to the broader culture. McCluskey noted that some critics of state support for private, religiously-affiliated schools accused these schools, and Catholic schools in particular, of supporting a sectarian and separatist social outlook that was antithetical to the democratic values and freedoms of the United States. They argued that if the state supported these schools it would be undermining, rather than carrying out, its responsibility to ensure that civic education is provided for the nation's children. In response to these accusations, McCluskey contended that if Catholics want to receive support for their schools and respect for their beliefs, they must always be able to show how they embrace respect for the democratic norms that are centrally important within the civic culture of the United States.

Once he completed his degree at Alma College, McCluskey was able to step back from the issues raised by the Everson and McCollum cases and to think more deeply about them. At that time he went to live, travel and study in Europe. While in Europe McCluskey was mentored, first, by Pére Francois Charmot as he studied ascetical psychology at the Maison Colombiére, Paray-le-Monial, France in 1952-1953. He then studied educational psychology under the tutelage of Jean Piaget in 1953-1954 at the Université de Genéve. During this time McCluskey was also able to broaden his understanding of moral and religious education as he visited European school systems and observed how European educators approached moral and religious instruction. For the 1954-1955 academic-year McCluskey returned to Seattle and served as an assistant professor of philosophy at Seattle University.

Life in New York (1955-1960) and Public Lecturing

In September 1955 McCluskey moved to New York to become an associate editor of America , a position he held until August of 1960. America is a national Catholic weekly journal of opinion published by the Jesuits. In his articles and commentary pieces in America McCluskey focused on educational concerns, but he also wrote about other religious and social issues being discussed at that time. During his years at America , McCluskey also became acquainted with many of the leaders of Catholic colleges and universities, especially those serving at Jesuit institutions of higher learning. In fact, the presidents of the nation's Jesuit colleges and universities and the executive director of their association, Edward Rooney, regularly invited McCluskey to their meetings and had him prepare their annual public statement. McCluskey also began to visit Jesuit institutions of higher learning to participate in campus activities, including seminars for faculty and students.

When interviewed, McCluskey cited a 1955 article about the Jehovah's Witness faith, one of the first he wrote for America , as being typical of his approach to issues in writing for the magazine (McCluskey, 1955). He noted that many Catholics, like many of their non-Catholic neighbors, were critical of Jehovah's Witness proselytizing practices. In contrast, other Catholics regarded followers of the Jehovah's Witness faith as an often-persecuted minority and called for Catholics, as another often-persecuted minority, to be open to entering into conversations with them. In his article McCluskey sought to present an accurate description and balanced evaluation of the Jehovah's Witness faith. He noted that in subsequent articles he often took a similar approach with the hope that his work might help to guide the readers of America in their efforts to understand and respond to contemporary religious and social issues and concerns.

McCluskey studied at Columbia Graduate School of Philosophy and Teachers College, earning a Ph.D. in social history from Columbia University in 1957. His dissertation was a comparative study of the educational philosophies of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey with a focus on their views on moral education in United States public schooling. McCluskey cited Dumas Malone, Henry Steele Commager, Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling, Philip H. Phenix, Lawrence Cremin, and R. Freeman Butts as the professors who had the most significant influence upon him during his years of study at Columbia. McCluskey then enrolled in courses on the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa at New York University in 1959 and 1960. Throughout his life McCluskey studied the relationship between faith and culture in various parts of the world, especially in Europe and Africa, to develop an ever-deepening sense of the Catholic Church as a universal church, and to provide comparisons that would help him to understand more fully the relationship between Catholicism and American culture.

During this first of two extended periods in which he lived in New York, McCluskey became a sought-after lecturer and presenter. He continued to be active on the lecture circuit for the next twenty five years. His public presentations can be divided into three main groupings. First, beginning in the late 1950s McCluskey began to receive invitations to address religious groups beyond the Catholic community. For example, in April of 1957 McCluskey was one of two Catholics (the other was Lawrence J. McGinley, S.J., President of Fordham University at the time) to be a presenter at an inter-religious forum as part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the American Jewish Committee in New York. (A brief notation on McCluskey's presence at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is recorded in AJC records. The notation can be accessed online by going to the AJC home page at: and following the links from "Intergroup Activities" to "History and Highlights" to "1957.") At a time when many Catholics would not, literally, step foot in a Protestant church let alone a Jewish synagogue, he called Catholics and Jews to recognize the parallels in their histories in the United States: both are minorities, both are often treated with suspicion in the broader culture, and both embrace firmly established faith traditions that they are trying to bring into dialogue with the democratic values and freedoms prominent in the United States. McCluskey demonstrated (and has always shown) a profound respect for Judaism. And, throughout his career he was often drawn into dialogue with people holding a variety of religious and philosophical beliefs. He has always been open to listening to others' beliefs and eager to discuss religious, moral and social issues with them.

Second, McCluskey was often invited to present a Catholic perspective on educational issues in the broader society. For instance, on February 15, 1960 McCluskey delivered a paper at the annual convention of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in Atlantic City, N.J. on why public support should be given to parochial schools (McCluskey, 1963). Early in the presentation he summarized why many Catholics preferred Catholic schools over public schools. Specifically, he noted that Catholics tend to regard moral and religious formation as essential dimensions of education, that the public schools have been unable to address the need for moral and religious formation in our pluralistic society, and hence, that many Catholics have judged the public schools to be incapable of providing the kind of education they desire for their children. McCluskey then claimed that "church-related schools" should "receive appropriate recognition and support" because: (1) only in this way can the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion be effectively safeguarded, and that (2) only in this way can the nation's youthful talent be realized (p. 2).

In presenting an argument to support this claim, McCluskey offered a Catholic Viewpoint on education using language that was intelligible within the broader social and political context of the United States. Specifically, to counter the argument that state support for religiously-affiliated schools violated the no establishment clause of the First Amendment, McCluskey also appealed to the First Amendment. He claimed that failure to support parochial schools should be seen as a hostile act against religious persons and families and as such was a violation of "freedom of choice in education" (p. 3) and ultimately of the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment. Additionally, McCluskey cited Title I of the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which he summarized as holding "that the security of the nation requires the fullest development of the mental resources and the technical skills of its young men and women" (p. 5). He argued that Catholic schools had made and continued to make a significant contribution to the cultivation of the talents of the nation's youth and consequently deserved to be supported by the state. Generally, in his talks and lectures within public and secular educational forums, such as the 1960 AASA convention in Atlantic City, McCluskey worked out responses to questions he had raised at Alma College about how Catholics in the United States can and should relate to the broader culture. More importantly, he became a spokesperson for Catholicism who helped many people from other faith and philosophical traditions gain a better understanding of Catholics and Catholics' views on educational issues.

Third, beginning in the mid 1950s McCluskey was frequently invited to address educational issues within the Catholic communities of the United States. These addresses tended to be a mix of historical, sociological and theological analysis. While McCluskey always affirmed the achievement of U. S. Catholics, he also often spoke about the challenges facing Catholics and Catholic schools. For example, McCluskey addressed the Conference of Diocesan School Superintendents of the National Catholic Education Association in Chicago, Illinois on April 21, 1960 (McCluskey, 1965). He began his talk by noting that, "Since 1940, American Catholic school enrollment has increased 147 per cent" (p. 111). Yet, he warned the Catholic educators who were his audience about the dangers of complacency. To emphasize this point he compared the Catholic school to the dinosaur and contended that Catholic educators "must be keenly aware of present challenges and make required adaptations" if U. S. Catholic schools were to avoid extinction (p. 111). McCluskey then discussed population growth, federal aid, educational standards and excellence, and how those beyond the Catholic community perceived Catholics. He concluded his talk with suggestions for addressing the challenges raised by these issues. Noteworthy among his proposals was his call to reach out to Catholic children not enrolled in Catholic schools in order to provide them with opportunities for moral and religious education. This is a claim that McCluskey would repeat in his two major books on Catholic Education and in numerous scholarly articles and public addresses. Overall, McCluskey was one of a number of Catholic educators and intellectuals of this era who helped to foster critical reflection and ongoing social and cultural adaptation within Catholic communities.

Early Scholarly Work

In addition to ongoing studies, writing for America , and speaking and professional engagements, McCluskey began to address critical issues in education and religious education in scholarly publications during his first extended residence in New York (1950-1960). Of foremost significance in this work are McCluskey's first two books: Public Schools and Moral Education , and Catholic Viewpoint on Education.

In Public Schools and Moral Education , McCluskey addressed the lack of consensus in the United States about governmental support for religious and moral instruction (McCluskey, 1958). This is the first of the two underlying issues he had identified in his earlier study of the Everson and McCollum Supreme Court decisions. The heart of Public Schools and Moral Education is an exploration of the work and educational philosophies of Horace Mann (1796-1859), William Torrey Harris (1835-1908) and John Dewey (1859-1952) as representative of the dominant approaches to moral and religious instruction in American public education.

Horace Mann had a significant influence on public education in the United States when he served as secretary of the State Board of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mann emphasized the need for common schools to provide an educated citizenry. He also held that common schools should offer moral and religious education based on nonsectarian Christian truths, that is, fundamental doctrines believed by all Christians. In commenting on Mann's position, McCluskey pointed out that, "The assumption of general Protestant or Christian unity that Mann followed was of questionable validity even during his years as secretary" (p. 97). McCluskey noted that Mann was able to bring together the dominant Protestant groups of his time and to forge agreed upon guidelines for moral education, but that as the United States became more pluralistic and religiously diverse this agreement could not be maintained.

William Torrey Harris had a long and distinguished career as an educator and philosopher. He exerted his greatest influence on education in the United States when he served as superintendent of the St. Louis Public School System (1867-1880) and United States Commissioner of Education (1889-1906). Harris objected to the existence of religious school systems and claimed that schools should be completely secular. Yet, he held that in applying disciplinary standards schools could provide moral training and encourage the development of moral habits, and that these in turn could become the foundation for religious education. He argued further that only the churches had the authority and the appropriate settings (that is, settings with an openness to the sacred) to provide religious education. McCluskey pointed out that Harris's approach pushed moral and religious education to the margins of school life and failed to address adequately the central importance of morality and faith to human existence. He also suggested that Harris's efforts to provide minimal moral training through school disciplinary procedures could only foster a negative, punitive and impoverished understanding of morality.

John Dewey is among the most significant and influential U. S. philosophers and educational theorists. While Dewey's views shifted and developed in the first part of his life, his mature thought focused on the value of democracy. If moral and religious convictions needed to be eliminated from United States public schools as the country became more socially and culturally diverse, Dewey suggested that they could be replaced by a commitment to democracy. As McCluskey noted, "John Dewey has presented a new summum bonum, the scientific living of social democracy in an industrial age, which can not allow place for values superior to those of the shared experience of democratic living" (p. 254). Moreover, Dewey re-envisioned the nature of moral values. For Dewey, moral intelligence is social intelligence focused on achieving social interests and aims and alleviating social ills. Moral values are not ultimately transcendent and universal guides for living. Rather, they have a purely pragmatic value. They are tools whose value is determined by their usefulness when working on social issues and concerns. For Dewey, the only overarching value is democracy itself; this is because it has proven to be the most useful political system for fostering fullness of human living. Schools, Dewey counseled, should provide moral education by teaching practical skills in democratic living. In critiquing Dewey's position on moral education, McCluskey noted that Catholics and others who hold traditional Christian beliefs, including a belief in the transcendent or supernatural dimension of the human person, are not likely to find Dewey's approach to moral education to be satisfactory. As McCluskey stated, they are likely to "regret that Dewey's dedication to the immediate ills of human society caused him to underestimate the 'unpractical' world of saint and stargazer, wherein an immortal soul might seek union with a Spirit that transcends the moil and pettiness of earth" (p. 258).

McCluskey's concluding reflections in Public Schools and Moral Education were tentative in nature. His first conclusion was that "after many decades of experimenting, the problem of moral education in the common school is more deficient of solution than ever-is, in fact, insoluble" (p. 260). McCluskey argued that Mann, Harris and Dewey did not offer sound models for maintaining moral formation in public schooling in an increasingly pluralistic and religiously diverse nation, and that as a result they contributed to the elimination of religion from public education. McCluskey's final conclusion was that unless new ways can be found to bring a richer sense of moral and religious education to public education, more parents would choose non-public schools for their children.

McCluskey offered a broad-ranging analysis of education in the United States in Catholic Viewpoint on Education (McCluskey, 1959). The book's intended audience was both Catholic educators and public school educators of all religious and philosophical convictions. In order to address this broad audience, McCluskey began by taking in "the sweep of America's school history" and identifying "three general patterns discernible in tracing the origins of education in the American colonies" (pp. 15-16). First, the schools of the New England colonies were rooted in Protestant Congregationalism and provided moral and religious instruction to nurture children in the values and worldview of the New England colonial communities. Second, in the southern colonies the professional class funded small schools for their children, and church schools were set up for children from what we would now call middle and low income families. In some cases there were also schools run by the state for poor children and orphans. Third, "in the middle colonies, best typified by Pennsylvania" there tended to be a number of religious groups, each sponsoring its own schools. Hence, "There were schools under the direction of Moravians, Mennonites, Quakers, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists - and even Catholics" (p. 18).

In offering this broad sweep of American school history, McCluskey showed that when U.S. schools were founded they were often connected in significant ways to the Christian churches, and tended to focus on offering religious and moral instruction. Additionally, he pointed out how Christian schools received state funding at various times. McCluskey then showed how the public schools emerged over time and became the dominant model in American education, and he outlined how they were eventually forced to adopt a secular educational stance because of the growing religious diversity and pluralism of the United States. McCluskey also noted that schooling and school-related activities have become the most significant influence on the lives of children and youth, and that as schools became more secular there was a decline in religious literacy and sensibility and a corresponding loss of a sense of a morality rooted in religious convictions. He added that children raised in deeply religious homes sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to the secular culture of public schools. McCluskey ended his analysis with the observation that, because of the difficulties that have arisen as the public schools have become more secular, many people remain uncomfortable with the lack of religious and moral education in the public school system.

In his historical survey McCluskey noted that in the colonial period "Catholics were suspected and feared. As a group, they lived outside the cultural and political activities of the community" (pp. 24-25). He added that, while "Catholic and Protestant colonists made common cause during the War of Revolution," there was a sense of "anti-Catholicism" running throughout United States history that spurred the development of a separate Catholic school system (pp. 26-27). Still, McCluskey focused on showing how Catholic Education can be seen as part of the general development of education in the United States. He emphasized that Catholics share a concern for moral and religious education with many of their non-Catholic neighbors, even though they will always hold distinct religious convictions. He showed how religious-affiliated schools-Catholic, Protestant and Jewish-allowed for freedom of religious expression while, at the same time, they produced citizens committed to upholding the democratic freedoms and values of the United States. McCluskey also suggested (and we need to remember that he wrote Catholic Viewpoint at a time when Communism was the most feared enemy of the United States) that to eliminate all private schools and maintain only a public school system would be to foster a monolithic, state-controlled, narrowly ideological educational system similar to that found in what was then the Soviet Union.

In Catholic Viewpoint McCluskey chronicled both the achievements and challenges facing Catholic schools and called for academic excellence in Catholic Education. He then reviewed recent United States court cases affecting Catholic schools, and considered the question of governmental aid for nonpublic education. McCluskey suggested ways in which Catholics could relate to people of other faith traditions and the broader culture. He also offered suggestions for how those who are not Catholic can understand Catholics more fully and possibly even work together with Catholics to address public issues from a faith perspective. McCluskey added the caution, rooted in his ecumenical and inter-religious sensitivity, that cooperative efforts among Christians need to be guided by prudent judgment. For instance, he suggested that, the campaign to "Put Christ Back in Christmas" should not turn into an ugly display of group power. Christian parent groups should be cautious about pressing for the introduction of religious pageants and displays, where they have hitherto been unknown. Fair consideration must always be given to the legitimate objections and religious susceptibilities of dissenters. (p. 188)

The most significant and influential part of Catholic Viewpoint is the presentation of a Catholic philosophy of education at the beginning of the second half of the book. According to McCluskey, schools exist "to develop the morally intelligent person" (p. 75). He suggested that both public school and Catholic school educators could acknowledge this primary or formal purpose of schooling. However, McCluskey also maintained that there are two ways in which a Catholic Educational philosophy differs from the secular philosophy of United States public schools.

First, while public education in the United States tended to focus on the role of the state to provide educational opportunities, a Catholic Viewpoint focused on the interrelated functions of family, civil society (which includes but is not limited to the state) and the church. "Each has distinct rights, yet all are properly ordered to ensure balance and harmony within the total educational process" (p. 80). McCluskey suggested that a diminished sense of the role of the family in educating children has led at times to a failure to respect the rights of parents to send their children to private schools when the available public schools are offensive to the faith and moral standards of their family. Of course, McCluskey added, parental rights are not absolute. Parents' educational choice for their children is limited by a concern for the common welfare and the state can legitimately interfere with parents' choices if they opt for an educational curriculum that seeks to undermine the democratic freedoms and values of our nation.

Second, McCluskey contended that while secular, public education tended to focus on the natural development of the person, Catholic Education focused on both the natural and the supernatural. For McCluskey, education from a Catholic perspective is about our life here and now, and our supernatural destiny to come face to face with God after death. McCluskey also argued that the Church has the essential task of ensuring that the supernatural dimension of education is developed fully.

A discerning reader of Catholic Viewpoint will note that McCluskey used the term "supernatural" in two ways. On the one hand, McCluskey talked about "supernatural wisdom." For instance, he wrote: "The Church founds schools so that these persons as her communicants will better acquire the supreme integrating principle of supernatural wisdom in ordering the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they learn" (p. 76). In McCluskey's discussions of supernatural wisdom as an integrating principle, there are echoes of the humanistic philosophy of secular, public schools. McCluskey suggested that a secular humanistic philosophy of education could provide a foundation, but that it always needs to be supplemented and ultimately transformed by the integrating principle of supernatural wisdom in order to provide an adequate guide for fostering the full human development of students. On the other hand, McCluskey discussed what he referred to as the "revealed supernatural order." For example, he asserted, "The starting point in the Catholic philosophy of education, then, is the reality of the supernatural as revealed through and in Jesus Christ" (p. 79). McCluskey contended that there are fundamental natural and supernatural truths that "form a perennial unchanging charter" that has from the beginning of the Christian era to the present "guided Catholic Education" (p. 78). In referring to natural and supernatural truths as substantive principles to guide Catholic Education, McCluskey's analysis resonated with established Catholic Education>al approaches of that time. (See for example John D. Redden and Francis A. Ryan, A Catholic Philosophy of Education.)

In discussing the supernatural dimensions education, McCluskey was striving to encourage greater dialogue between secular educators and Catholic educators and to expand the horizons of both. Ultimately, Catholic Viewpoint was an attempt to present a broadly inclusive and holistic conception of education that brought together the various approaches to educational theory and practice that McCluskey had studied.

Gonzaga (1960-1966)

In September 1960 McCluskey returned to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington as an associate professor of education. In 1962 he was a visiting professor at the Oppenheimer Institute in Lusaka, Zambia, now the University of Zambia. In 1964 McCluskey was appointed Dean of the School of Education and then became Academic Vice-President of Gonzaga. While serving in these positions, McCluskey played a central role in the administrative and programmatic reorganization of the university. During his time at Gonzaga, McCluskey also helped to develop the Honors Program and originated the Gonzaga in Florence (GIF) program. He resided in Florence during the first year of GIF so that he could help to support the program. At the present time, both the honors program and GIF continue to thrive and remain central to the educational mission of the university. The Honors Program is designed to offer a holistic educational experience that combines rigorous academic study with personal and spiritual formation. Honors students are part of an intentional learning community whose members support, encourage and learn from one another. They are also provided with opportunities for community service, leadership training and study abroad. The GIF program gives students from Gonzaga and other universities a chance to spend a year living and studying in Florence, Italy. In supporting GIF McCluskey intentionally recruited, and sought financial support for, students who would not normally be able to afford a year abroad.

While at Gonzaga McCluskey also published Catholic Education in America , "a sampling of the important documents that explain Catholic Education over the last 175 years" (McCluskey, 1964, p. 2). The book contained an introductory essay on "America and the Catholic School," and introductory comments on the educational dilemmas each document confronted. In Catholic Education in America McCluskey celebrated the accomplishments of Catholic Education in the nation, but was also forthright about its shortcomings, such as clerical domination of the schools and confusion about their academic mandate.

McCluskey went to Gonzaga with a well-developed educational philosophy and vision for the further development ofCatholic Education in the United States. Gonzaga provided him with a chance to test and refine his views in practice. For example, in contributing to the development of the Honors Program, McCluskey was able to implement and further develop his conception of a rigorously-academic yet holistic education that included a focus on both the natural and supernatural development of a person. Similarly, McCluskey envisioned GIF as offering Catholic young adults an opportunity to study and travel in Europe that would broaden their understanding of Catholicism and Western civilization. At the same time, McCluskey hoped that, as they conversed with people in Europe, young American Catholics would come to appreciate more fully the distinctiveness of both the American outlook on life and Catholicism in the United States.

Notre Dame (1966-1971)

For the spring semester of 1966 McCluskey was a visiting professor at Columbia University Teachers College in New York. That fall he served as Visiting Professor of Education at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. The next year he was appointed Professor of Education and Dean-Director of the Notre Dame Institute for Studies in Education. The year after that, McCluskey founded the Notre Dame Journal of Education , a professional quarterly journal. It offered examinations of public and private schooling and formal and informal education with a particular focus on how educational theory and practices adapted and continued to adapt to a constantly changing environment. Despite it positive reception, the journal cased publication in 1976 because of lack of funding. While at Notre Dame McCluskey also began to devote more time to addressing issues of Catholic higher education and adult religious education.

After moving to Notre Dame, McCluskey began to contribute more actively to the Religious Education Association (REA). Specifically, he became a member of the REA Board of Directors in 1967, and served in this capacity until 1989. McCluskey also served on the Editorial Committee for the REA journal, Religious Education.

During his years at Notre Dame, McCluskey helped to build bridges between Notre Dame (founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross) and the other, especially Jesuit, institutions of higher education in the United States. More fully, a number of frictions and rivalries developed among the Catholic institutions of higher learning in the U.S. by the mid twentieth century as these institutions competed for students and resources. Tensions were especially high between the larger Jesuit schools and Notre Dame. When Theodore Hesburgh became President of Notre Dame he worked to ease these tensions by inviting a number of Jesuit scholars to come to Notre Dame. He also engaged Catholic leaders, including a number of Jesuit, in conversations about higher educational issues. (Hesburgh is a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and was educated by the Jesuits at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.) When McCluskey came to Notre Dame he quickly became Hesburgh's ally in drawing the leadership of Catholic higher educational institutions into conversation, working to overcome, in particular, tensions between Notre Dame and Jesuit institutions of higher learning. Their efforts helped to foster a new climate in Catholic higher education that enabled many Catholic colleges and universities to overcome difficulties and prosper in the latter half of the twentieth century. (However, McCluskey noted that he never dared to address the gridiron rivalry between Notre Dame and Boston College.)

McCluskey published Catholic Education Faces its Future in 1968 (McCluskey, 1968). He began the book with the claim: "The explosive forces unloosed by the Second Vatican Council are forcing a complete reappraisal of Catholic Educationin the United States at all levels" (p. 17). This was indeed the case. Yet, Vatican II did not force McCluskey to reappraise completely his own approach to religious and educational issues. Rather, the stances McCluskey took in his early work (for example, his focus on ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, his calls for freedom of religion and his emphasis on the social dimensions of Christian faith) foreshadowed many of the developments of Vatican II. Hence, even though he was writing in the light of the updated teachings of the Second Vatican Council, McCluskey's focus in much of Catholic Education was on further developing the approach to educational issues that he had first formulated in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In Catholic Education McCluskey retraced the origins and development of both United States public and Catholic Education, updated his analysis of primary and secondary education and argued again for the need for partnerships between public and Catholic schools. He restated, with some new references, his arguments for freedom of religion and in favor of state support for Catholic schools, and he reaffirmed the centrally important role of moral and religious education in any process of education. McCluskey also restated his understanding of the interrelated roles of family, society and the church in education. As he had done in the past, McCluskey called Catholic educators to seek academic excellence and cautioned them about being lulled by success into a false sense of security. In Catholic Viewpoint McCluskey was ahead of his time in affirming the value of lay teachers and calling for partnerships between clergy and laity in Catholic schools (McCluskey, 1959, 104-106). In Catholic Education he reaffirmed these points and discussed them more fully in the light of the renewed focus at Vatican II on the role of the laity in the Church and in the world (McCluskey, 1968, pp. 110-113, 115-118, & 223-226). In Catholic Education McCluskey also placed greater emphasis on the mission of Catholic schools as part of "the church's vocation of witness and service… to the weak and poor" (p. 22).

Even though Catholic Education offered "further developments" rather than "a complete reappraisal" of McCluskey's approach to education, the book is the richest, most nuanced account of education McCluskey produced. It is, in other words, his mature thought on the subject of education. On the one hand, Catholic Education revealed that McCluskey's humanistic sensibilities had deepened and that, as a result, he was better able to present his educational stance in language that was likely to be understood in the late twentieth century.

More fully, in Catholic Education McCluskey restated that education should be focused on both the natural and supernatural development of the person. He further developed his ideas using the metaphor of time and eternity. McCluskey asserted that education needs to be focused on the now, the present time, and on preparing people to live in the present. Yet, he argued that any education that focused only on the now is incomplete. Education must also focus on eternity, on what we can contribute to what comes after us in this life and what comes for us after death. According to the perspective presented in Catholic Education , education is about both learning how to live and learning how to die. The value of Catholic schools, McCluskey contended, is that they can provide an "atmosphere and values" that make it possible to attend to both the now and the eternal, each in "their proper place." Stated differently, Catholic schools can provide an environment in which educators can attend to the "total spectrum" of human "experience" and focus on the development of "the whole person" (p. 35). McCluskey added that, "Though formal religion classes are only a small portion of the day's total instruction, religion has an indirect influence that enters normally and naturally into many areas of the curriculum" (p. 38). Generally, in discussing how educators must attend to both the now and the eternal if they are to honor the life experience of a person as a whole, and in his emphasis on the importance of atmosphere, values and indirect influences in the educational environment, McCluskey presented an educational viewpoint that had greater resonance with dominant social perspectives in the United States than the educational outlook he had presented in his earlier work.

On the other hand, in Catholic Education McCluskey placed much greater stress on human sinfulness and the need for conversion. For instance, he noted that, "The Eternal Son of God became incarnate" to restore humanity to "full friendship" with God because we had "lost original integrity so that perfect order is missing" in our lives. He added, "The lapse of Adam from grace did not destroy this fundamental ordering;" (that is, "the order created by God") "it did give rise to an antagonism between the material and spiritual orders, particularly within man [woman] himself [herself] - as personal reflection at times makes one painfully aware" (p. 36). McCluskey was attracted to the optimism of Mann, the idealism of Harris, and the progressivism of Dewey. In the early part of his life he chose to set aside the more sober theological reflections of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). He was aware of but never commented on the hard-hitting social critiques of Dorothy Day (1897-1980) and Thomas Merton (1915-1968). Now, however, in his mature work he showed a willingness to confront directly the harsh realities of sin in our world, and even to acknowledge a painful personal awareness of sin. As a result, discerning readers will find in Catholic Education a greater emphasis on the need to be open to the reconciling power and presence of God in our lives and world than is present in McCluskey's earlier work. Overall, in Catholic Education McCluskey provided a much richer account of what it means to educate religiously than in any of his previous work. At this point in his life McCluskey began to refer to himself as a "Christian humanist," and this is perhaps the most apt description of his mature philosophical stance. He revealed in his life and work during this time that he had a realistic understanding of both the potentials and limitations of human life, and the need for human beings always to be turning toward the saving and freeing presence of God.

Finally, there are two other significant developments in McCluskey's thought in Catholic Education . First, McCluskey addressed specific issues about funding, educational standards and governance in Catholic higher education when he wrote for America . Yet, Catholic Education provides McCluskey's only comprehensive discussion of higher education. In Catholic Education McCluskey called Catholic institutions of higher education to focus on serving the educational needs of the United States while retaining a distinct Catholic identity. He spoke of the importance of financial assistance and cautioned Catholic institutions against becoming schools that only the wealthy could attend. Moving beyond a focus on Catholic schools, McCluskey discussed the value of establishing Catholic centers at public colleges and universities. Also noteworthy is McCluskey's analysis of women and higher education. Although some of his views about what he at times referred to as "girl's education" (in contrast with "men's education") are limited by the effects of the gender inequalities he encountered in his life, in Catholic Education McCluskey spoke out strongly for educational equality for men and women.

Second, Catholic Education presents McCluskey's mature thought on moral and religious education in public schooling. In a chapter focusing on public education and values he states:

If one accepts the secular character of the contemporary American public school, does it follow that this type of school should be altogether excluded from religious education? If the public school is considered an extension of the political state, the answer is Yes; it would have to be, like the state, neutral. But functioning as an extension of the social community, the public school can and should work together with the community's legitimate undertakings in religious education. (p. 211)

Essentially, McCluskey suggested that if educators can identify the moral and religious issues in their social community, they can provide a foundation for moral and religious education in schools. For example, if educators can identify the religious faiths and traditions that are present in a social community, they can lay a foundation for religious education by teaching about these traditions in schools. Similarly, if pressing socio-moral concerns can be identified (today, for example, drug abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or violence might come to mind), educators can provide a foundation for moral education by exploring why these are socio-moral concerns. McCluskey argued that the schools can create an awareness of moral and religious issues that parents and churches can then build upon in providing more substantive moral and religious formation. Earlier in his career McCluskey had concluded that calls for moral and religious education in public schools created an insoluble problem. In contrast, in Catholic Education he presented a detailed analysis of ways moral and religious education might be addressed in public education.

Shortly before McCluskey's arrival at Notre Dame, Note Dame's President Hesburgh was elected president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU). Aware of McCluskey's international background, Hesburgh invited McCluskey to help with the planning for IFCU executive committee and federation meetings. In March of 1967, McCluskey arranged a two-day meeting at Notre Dame for the presidents and vice-presidents of Fordham, Georgetown, Boston College, St. Louis University and Notre Dame to discuss issues that would be raised at the next IFCU meeting. Then, from July 20-23, 1967, McCluskey and other representatives of major Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada, along with a few high level administrators from ecclesial offices in Rome (a total of 45 people), participated in an invitational seminar at Notre Dame's ecological center in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin. McCluskey had planned the Land O'Lakes meeting to build upon the work done at the earlier March meeting. The task of the Land O'Lakes group was to prepare a statement on the nature and role of the contemporary Catholic university from a North American perspective that would be presented at the next IFCU meeting. Robert Henle, who was then academic vice president of St. Louis University and later president of Georgetown, is credited with taking a central role in drawing together the insights of the group and organizing them into a written statement. However, McCluskey served as secretary for the seminar and also played an important role in the preparation of the final seminar statement. This statement, entitled "The Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University," is more commonly known as "The Land O'Lakes Statement."

Some members of the Land O'Lakes group were initially reluctant to release to the general public all or even part the statement they had prepared for the next IFCU meeting. However, veteran journalist John Cogley pointed out that a number of newspapers and magazines were already trying to find out why this leadership group had gathered. He convinced the other members of the group that it was in their best interest to release the complete Land O'Lakes Statement, and not to leave people wondering about what they discussed. The statement included: a call for a strong commitment to academic excellence, especially in the branches of theology; encouragement for theologians exploring and critically reflecting upon the richness of Christian traditions; affirmations of the value of interdisciplinary study; and the articulation of a vision of the Catholic university as the critical reflective intelligence of the Church. Thousands of copies of the document were circulated, and it was discussed by faculties in dozens of colleges and universities. Unfortunately, the secular press tended to overemphasize the sections of the document on the need for autonomy and academic freedom in Catholic colleges and universities. Overall, the Land O'Lakes Statement has had an important influence on the further development of Catholic colleges and universities in North America.

McCluskey participated in the eighth triennial conference of the IFCU at Lovanium University at Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September of 1968. He and the other approximately 100 delegates from some fifty Catholic institutions discussed The Land O'Lakes Statement and other reports prepared by regional groups from around the world. Near the end of the conference McCluskey was elected chair of a committee that drafted the conference's final declaration. That short declaration was entitled "The Catholic University in the Modern World" and became known as "The Kinshasa Statement."

As part of the follow up to the IFCU meeting in Kinshasa, McCluskey was one of six representatives elected by forty institutions of higher education in the United States to attend a consultation on Catholic higher education in Rome from April 25-May 1, 1969. The consultation, which has since become known as the "Rome Congress," was convened by Gabriel-Marie Garrone, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Educationof the Roman Catholic Church. The Rome Congress concluded with the adoption of a position paper entitled, "The Catholic University and the Aggiornamento," more frequently referred to as "The Rome Statement." The Rome Statement was discussed at a plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education in October, 1969, and insights from the statement were incorporated in the Congregation's post-session report to Pope Paul VI. This report helped to shape a statement on Catholic higher education that Paul VI sent to the Catholic bishops of the world. (The Land O'Lakes Statement, the Kinshasa Statement and the Rome Statement are included as appendices in McCluskey, ed. 1970.) Finally, between January, 1971 and November, 1972 there were a series of follow-up discussions on Catholic higher education held at Land O'Lakes, Caracas (Venezuela), and Grottaferrata (near Rome, Italy) in response to requests by Garrone for a further review of important issues in higher education by universities. McCluskey was present at each of these meetings. (See McCluskey, "Introduction: This is How it Happened," in McCluskey, ed. 1970, pp. 1-28; and Galen, 2000, pp. 129-133.)

Generally, McCluskey played a significant role in ICFU meetings that: brought the leadership teams of United States higher educational institutions into greater conversation with one another, created a new level of international conversation about Catholic higher education, and influenced the way the institutional Church at the highest levels addressed Catholic higher education.

In many ways, however, the ICFU discussions raised more questions than they answered. Foremost among these were questions about academic freedom and how to address tensions that might arise as a person engages in critically reflective theological scholarship while at the same time being bound to respect established theological traditions. Other questions were raised about the role, mission and governance of Catholic universities, the relationship between Catholic universities and their local churches, how ecumenical and inter-religious issues affected Catholic universities, and many other issues as well. While he was in the midst of ongoing ICFU discussions, McCluskey collected and edited scholarly essays to address these questions and published the collection as The Catholic University: A Modern Appraisal in 1970. McCluskey contributed an essay on university governance to this collection.

New York (1970-2002)

McCluskey served as a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York during the summer of 1970. When he left Notre Dame he spent the fall of 1971 at Woodstock College in the New York City area studying theological questions in the third world. Then, from December, 1971 to September, 1975 he was Professor and Dean of the Division of Professional Programs at Lehman College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY). While at Lehman College McCluskey oversaw an extensive administrative reorganization of the division he led and developed new programs in teacher education, most notably PACE (Program for Alternative Careers in Education).

In the early 1970s McCluskey became involved with the National Council on Religion and Public Education (NCRPE), through his participation in the REA. Following the initial chairmanship of Boardman W. Kathan, McCluskey was elected chair of the NCRPE on November 19, 1972 in Chicago at the organization's first anniversary convention. The following year the NCRPE was incorporated as separate organization with its own By Laws. McCluskey was elected president on December 13, 1973 in Columbus, Ohio, and served in this capacity until 1976.

In 1971 at the 65th anniversary banquet for the journal Religious Education , McCluskey was recognized as a pioneering Catholic educator. He continued to be active in the REA throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He also planned and directed the REA's 1978, 75th Anniversary Seminar Tour to Israel, Rome, and Geneva.

From September, 1975 until June, 1981, McCluskey was Professor of Gerontological Studies and Director of the Center for Gerontological Studies, CUNY. This new position provided opportunities for McCluskey to pursue developing interests in life-transition planning and life-quality for the aging.

In 1975 McCluskey resigned from the Society of Jesus. In 1978 Elaine Lituchy Jacobs and Neil G. McCluskey married.

McCluskey was a visiting professor at New York City Community College in the winter of 1978, Lehman College in the spring of 1979, and the College of New Rochelle in the winter of 1980.

McCluskey continued his research and lecturing in the fields of education and religious education into the 1980s. As the 1980s progressed, however, his work began to focus more and more on issues of aging.

In the fall of 1981 McCluskey was appointed Executive Director of BHRAGS, Inc. BHRAGS had been formed by combining Brooklyn's Haitian, Ralph, and Good Shepherd social service centers. BHRAGS focuses on providing job training for people of all ages, and social services for youth and older adults. Under McCluskey's leadership BHRAGS expanded from two sites to six sites, and its total number of programs went from eight to twenty while its annual budget went from 1.6 million to over 7 million dollars. McCluskey's next challenge was to take on the directorship of Mainstream, an Institute for Mature Adults at Westchester Community College, in 1986 and to rebuild the institute's programs. To ease his way into retirement in the late 1980s, McCluskey became a senior consultant with Retirement Advisors and offered seminars on Mid-career/Life Assessment and Retirement Education. In 1990 he started the Westchester Literary Agency in Hartsdale, New York. The Westchester Literary Agency continued to assist writers and aspiring writers until 2004. (During the last few years of operation, the Westchester Literary Agency was located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.)

When McCluskey began to address issues about life-transition planning and life quality for the aging there was a shift in the focus of his work. However, it is important to recognize that McCluskey was interested primarily in educational issues from the beginning until the final stages of his career. First, throughout his career McCluskey maintained that education is more than schooling. Yet, for much of his professional life his focus was on public and private schooling. A central focus of his later work was to explore adult education across the lifespan in a wide variety of settings. Thus, in the latter part of his career McCluskey finally found an opportunity to explore educational issues in a broad, life-centered, rather than school-centered, context. Second, throughout his career McCluskey was an advocate for educational excellence. Just as he challenged Catholic educators to strive for academic excellence in the first part of his career, McCluskey, as a gerontological educator, called for academic excellence in both university programs in gerontology and community programs for the aging.

Third, from the 1950s to the end of his career McCluskey was an educator whose hand was on the pulse of Catholicism in the United States. In the late 1950s when Catholics were moving into the United States mainstream, many Catholics were concerned about the education of their children. McCluskey responded by addressing issues about public and Catholic schooling. When Catholic concerns about issues of higher education became prominent in the mid 1960s, McCluskey again responded and addressed these issues. By the mid 1970s, many Catholics felt settled and "at home" in the United States; their concerns began to shift toward issues of mid-life transition and life in older adulthood. Once again, McCluskey, perceiving this shift, designed educational programs to meet the needs for adult education being voiced in Catholic communities around the country. (McCluskey's educational outreach at this point in his life, however, was not limited to Catholic communities. In providing life-transition and life-quality seminars and educational programming that incorporated a focus on spirituality, McCluskey was also in contact with Jewish and Protestant communities and groups. In fact, McCluskey's ecumenical and inter-religious outreach led Joseph Hankin, who was President of the World Council of Churches at that time, to suggest that McCluskey consider becoming the director of the Mainstream Program at Westchester Community College. As noted above, McCluskey then took on the leadership of this program in 1986.)

Finally, McCluskey has always been a religious educator. From the first time he entered a high school classroom as a teacher, through all of his lecturing, university teaching and administrative work, to his conversations as a literary agent with writers, McCluskey continually raised questions about the deeper meaning of life and what it means to live religiously-that is, to be rooted in the present moment, but at the same time to be open to the supernatural, the eternal, and ultimately to live with an openness to the power and presence of God in one's life and in the world.

McClusky moved to south Florida in the late 1990's. While living in Florida Neil was actively involved in the local community, and he and Elain maintained contact with a large network of extended family and friends. McClusky underwent intestinal surgery in December 2007, and then died of complications related to the surgery on May 27, 2008.

Contributions to Christian Education

McCluskey contributed to educating people in the United States about Catholic Christianity. When McCluskey was growing up there was a great deal of anti-Catholicism in the United States. Fear and distrust of Catholics was still quite common in the 1950s and into the 1960s. For example, Paul Blanshard's anti-Catholic tract American Freedom and Catholic Power was well read and praised by many in the United States throughout this period. McCluskey was part of a loose coalition of Catholic intellectuals, many of whom were Jesuits, who sought actively to counteract the effects of anti-Catholicism and to make Catholic perspectives on social and religious issues understandable within the broad expanse of United States society. John Courtney Murray was one of the best known members of this coalition. McCluskey dedicated both Catholic Viewpoint and Catholic Education to Murray. While Murray focused mostly on political and social issues, McCluskey concentrated on addressing anti-Catholicism (what he tends to call "the shadow of bigotry") in the educational forums of the United Sates. Moreover, McCluskey's writings enjoyed a wide circulation because they were generally seen as clear, concise and scholarly; with many of McCluskey's essay also being accessible to the broader public. For instance, one commentator described McCluskey's introduction to Catholic Education in America as a "model essay" on U.S. Catholic Education (Cross, 1974, p. 127). Today, there is still a degree of anti-Catholicism in the United States (Massa, 2003). However, because of the efforts of McCluskey and other Catholic leaders in the last half of the twentieth century, Catholics in the United States are often accepted and treated as equals today by those from other faith and philosophical traditions.

McCluskey also contributed significantly to the education of United States Catholics in the last half of the twentieth century. More fully, the Catholics Church in the United States during McCluskey's childhood and early life was often deeply divided along ethnic lines. It was common at this time, for instance, to find an Irish Catholic parish and school, an Italian Catholic parish and school, a German Catholic parish and school and maybe as many as half a dozen other ethnic parishes and schools in a mid-sized or large U. S. city. The various Catholic ethnic groups often tended to avoid contact with one another just as they avoided their Protestant and Jewish neighbors. Some of those who lived within these ethnic communities had fairly narrow views of the world. McCluskey helped Catholics from the various ethics groups recognize what they had in common with one another and how they were all shaped by the rich resources of Catholic faith traditions. He encouraged the Catholics of that time to think critically about their faith, and how they related their faith to the other dimensions of their everyday lives.

Additionally, McCluskey challenged Catholics to recognize how they were both different from and similar to their non-Catholic neighbors. That is, McCluskey acknowledged that Catholics' faith commitments separated them in some ways from non-Catholics. At the same time, McCluskey challenged Catholics in the United States to recognize how they as citizens were shaped by the democratic values and freedoms of the United States, and how this linked them to their non-Catholic compatriots and gave them a distinctive identity within the world-wide Catholic Church. McCluskey even suggested that in some cases Catholics who had never moved beyond the boundaries of particular Catholic communities should not receive all of their schooling under Catholic auspices so that they could have opportunities to gain a broader sense of U.S. culture (Lee, 1969, pp. 7-8).

Generally, McCluskey is one of the Catholic leaders of the last half of the twentieth century who helped to foster the sense of United States Catholic identity that is often taken for granted today. Because of the educational efforts of McCluskey and other Catholic leaders, many Catholics continue to treasure their ethnic roots but no longer think of their ethnic heritage as separating them from Catholics with different ethnic heritages. Many Catholics in the United States treasure the distinctiveness of Catholicism, but are also able to work with those from other faith and philosophical traditions in addressing civic issues. And, many Catholics in our country hold a strong sense of the distinctiveness of U. S. Catholicism while retaining a commitment to the universal Catholic Church.

Throughout his career McCluskey was a tireless advocate for moral and religious education in public and private education in the United States. Moreover, at a time when United States public education was becoming more and more secular, McCluskey argued again and again in his writing and public speaking that 1) moral and religious education needed to be at the core of any educational process that sought to encourage full human development, and 2) ways could be found to introduce moral and religious education that would respect the religious pluralism and diversity of the United States. Additionally, McCluskey always insisted that moral and religious education could complement rather than detract from a focus on academic rigor. When he was actively involved in discussions of public and Catholic Education, McCluskey was described as "one of the principal spokesmen" for the view that intellectual and moral/religious development could be effectively combined (Lee, 1968, p. 32). As a result of the influence of McCluskey and other significant educators, it is fairly common in today's public and private elementary and secondary schools to have programs of character or citizenship education, to teach morality by focusing on broad social concerns such as preventing drug abuse, and in some cases even to have programs or courses in world religions or religions in the United States. And, it is often taken for granted that contemporary programs in moral/religious education can be part of a rigorous academic curriculum.

McCluskey also contributed to discussions about public support for private schooling, and the value of private schools in providing opportunities for educational freedom of choice. Today there has been a resurgence of interest in private primary and secondary schools as alternatives to public schools. There are also numerous debates about when and how public support can be provided for these private schools. The arguments advanced today in favor of private schools and public support for private schools build upon the arguments McCluskey presented in his work. (The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) School Choice Initiative web page is one of the best sources of information about contemporary arguments made in favor of private schools and public support for private schools. McCluskey's name is not mentioned in the information presented on the web site. However, the current position of the NCEA clearly incorporates and builds upon the arguments for freedom of religion and the rights of parents in choosing an education for their children that McCluskey was one of the first to advance.)

Through his participation in the REA and contributions to scholarly discussions of religious educational issues, McCluskey contributed to the academic discipline of religious education, and helped to shape Catholic involvement in the field. Within Catholic institutions, in particular, McCluskey is regarded as a pioneer in exploring the relationship between Christian faith and U.S. culture, the dynamics of religious and moral education, and the social history of U.S. Catholic schools. However, McCluskey's influence has been more general than specific. There is not a "McCluskey school" or group of McCluskey followers. Rather, anyone who knows McCluskey's work can not help but recognize how the Catholic-community-centered, yet broadly inclusive, ecumenical, inter-religious and holistic educational perspective that McCluskey began to advance within U.S. Catholicism in the 1950s is now taken for granted by many Catholics, and has enabled Catholics to retain a distinctive sense of denominational identity while at the same time being able to enter into dialogue with religious educators from other faith traditions.

Finally, in his writing, his administrative work at Gonzaga and Notre Dame and his involvement with the IFCU, McCluskey helped to shape the direction of Catholic higher education in the United States. First, Theodore Hesburgh, John Tracey Ellis, Neil McCluskey and other nationally known, Catholic intellectual leaders helped "to raise the quality of American Catholic higher education" (Geiger, "Faculty" in Hunt, et al., 2003, p. 203; see also Geiger, "Governance of Catholic Higher Education," in Hunt, et al., 2003, p. 120). McCluskey's contribution to U.S. Catholic higher education began when he wrote for America . For example, Edward J. Power cited McCluskey's America article on the lack of Rhodes Scholars at Catholic higher educational institutions as presenting a convincing argument for changes that helped to raise academic standards at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities (Power, 1972, p. 458). However, McCluskey's greatest contributions to higher education were made through his administrative work, writing, and lecturing during his years at Gonzaga and Notre Dame.

Second, McCluskey was among the Catholic leaders whose work led to the "inclusion of lay men and women on the boards of Catholic institutions" and who, ultimately, "urged the colleges and universities into the mainstream of American higher education, and now these institutions were perceived less and less as a subculture with its own symbols and language" (Galen, 2000, pp. 43 & 50). Third, McCluskey helped to create connections between United States Catholic colleges and universities and their counterparts throughout the world that led to a sharing of ideas and fostered greater creativity in higher education.

Fourth, the Land O'Lakes Statement became a foundational document for the further development of United States institutions of higher education. Because of its influence, the teaching of Christian theology remained a part of the core curricula offered at these institutions, and higher education administrators retained a focus on the distinctive Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities. At the same time, the guidelines offered in the statement have helped to ensure academic freedom for professors and contributed to the development of governance structures that gave Catholic colleges and universities the maneuvering room they needed to adapt to changing social and cultural conditions. (See O'Brien, 1995.) In helping to draft the Land O'Lakes Statement, McCluskey contributed to laying the foundation that Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States have built upon as they have become one of the great assets of our contemporary church and society.

Works Cited

  • Blanshard, P. (1949). American freedom and Catholic power. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Cross, R. D. (1974, Spring). Recent histories of U.S. Catholic Education. History of Education Quarterly, 14 (1), 125-130.
  • Gallin, A. (2000). Negotiating Identity: Catholic higher education since 1960. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Hunt, T. C.; Joseph, E. A.; Nuzzi, R. N. & Geiger, J. O. (Eds.). (2003). Handbook of research on Catholic higher education. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  • Lee, J. M. (1968). The purpose of Catholic schooling. Dayton, OH: National Catholic EducationAssociation.
  • Massa, M. S. (2003). Anti-Catholicism in America: The last acceptable prejudice. New York: Crossroad.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, November). Who are Jehovah's Witnesses? America, 94, 204-208.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958). Public Schools and Moral Education. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959). Catholic Viewpoint on education. Garden City, NY: Image Books.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1963). Public funds for parochial schools? Yes! In E. Shoben, Jr (Ed.), Religion in the schools (pp. 1-8). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (Ed.). (1964). Catholic Education in America: A documentary history: Classics in education (21). New York: Teacher's College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1965). The dinosaur and the Catholic school. In W. Kolesnik & E. Power (Eds.), Catholic Education: A book of readings (pp. 111-118). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Catholic Education faces its future. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (Ed.). (1970). The Catholic university: A modern appraisal. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • O'Brien, D. J. (1995). Catholic higher education at the crossroads. Santa Clara, U. of Santa Clara Press.
  • Power, E. J. (1972). Catholic higher education in America: A history. New York: Meredith Corporation.
  • Redden, J. D. & Ryan, F.A. (1942). A Catholic philosophy of education. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce, 1942.



  • McCluskey, N. G. & Borgatta, E. F. (Eds.). (1981). Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning and policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Borgatta, E. F. & McCluskey, N.G. (Eds.). (1980). Aging and society: Current research and policy perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (Ed.). (1970). The Catholic university: A modern appraisal. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Catholic Education faces its future, foreword by T. Hesburgh. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (Ed.)., (1964).Catholic Education in America: A documentary history: Classics in education (21). New York: Teacher's College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1962). Catholic Viewpoint on education (Rev. ed.). Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959). Catholic Viewpoint on education. Garden City, NY: Image Books.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958). Public Schools and Moral Education. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958.


  • Jacobson, P.; McCluskey, N.G. & Swomley, J. M. (1969). Public aid to parochial schools? (Reprinted from the Christian Century, June 4, 1969). New York:American Jewish Committee.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1950). Federal aid to private schools? St. Louis: Queen's Work (Pius XII Memorial Library, St. Louis University).
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1950). Your church is 'undemocratic.' St. Louis: Queen's Work (Pius XII Memorial Library, St. Louis University).
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1949). Short flight to heaven. St. Louis: Queen's Work. (Pius XII Memorial Library, St. Louis University).

Chapters in Books and Book Introductions

  • McCluskey, N. G. (1981). Careers for Older Americans. In N.G. McCluskey abd E.F. Borgotta (Eds.), Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning, and policy (pp. 31-46). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1981). Preparing for the Transfer Point. In N. G. McCluskey and E. F. Borgotta (Eds.), Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning, and policy (pp. 63-78). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1981). Preretirement education and preparation for aging. In R. Davis, Aging: Prospects and issues (pp. 362-382). Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press.
  • McCluskey, N. G. & Borgatta, E. F. (1980). Introduction: Research on aging in perspective. In E. F. Borgatta & N. G. McCluskey (Eds.), Aging and society: Current research and policy perspectives (pp. 9-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1979). New dimensions of gerontology programs. In H. Stearns, (Eds.), Gerontology in higher education: Developing institutional and community strengths (pp. 14-20). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • McCluskey, N. G. & Alenhof, J. (1978). The system makes it unhealthy to be old. In S. Seidelman, B. Gross & R. Gross (Eds.), The new old: Struggling for decent aging (pp. 140-148). Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1970). Introduction: this is how it happened. In N. G. McCluskey (Ed.), The Catholic university: A modern appraisal (pp. 1-28). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1970). The governance. In N. G. McCluskey (Ed.), The Catholic university: A modern appraisal (pp. 144-156). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1969). Child support or wall of separation? In P. Jacobson, N. G. McCluskey & J. M. Swomley, Public aid to parochial schools? (Reprinted from the Christian Century, June 4, 1969). New York: American Jewish Committee.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1968). American Catholic higher education and the challenges of the right to know. In R. F. Drinan (Ed.), The right to be educated: Studies to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the universal declaration of human rights, December 10, 1948. Washington, D.C.: Corpus Books.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1967). The new secularity and the requirements of pluralism. In T. Sizer (Ed.), Religion and public education (pp. 231-248). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1966). The Catholic high school looks at its future. In C.A. Koob (Ed.), What is happening to Catholic Education? (pp. 13-23). Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Educational Association.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1966). Catholic schools after Vatican II. In C.A. Koob (Ed.), What is happening to Catholic Education? (pp. 1-12). Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Educational Association.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1965). The dinosaur and the Catholic school. In W. Kolesnik & E. Power (Eds.), Catholic Education: A book of readings (pp. 111-118). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1964). America and the Catholic school. In N. G. McCluskey (ed.), Catholic Education in America: A documentary history: Classics in education (21) (pp. 1-44). New York: Teacher's College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1963). Public funds for parochial schools? Yes! In E. Shoben, Jr (Ed.), Religion in the schools (pp. 1-8). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1951). Japanese journeyman: Brother Leonard Kimua, S.J. (1575-1602): declared blessed 1867. In J. P. Leary (Ed.), Better a Day (pp. 227-245). New York: MacMillan.


  • McCluskey, N. G. (1989). Retirement and the contemporary family. Journal of Psychotherapy & the Family, 51 (1-2), 211-224.
  • McCluskey, N. G. & Borgatta, E. F. (1980, October). Preretirement planning. Generations.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1977, May). Value and ethical dilemmas in the delivery of social health care. Paper presented as part of the Doris Siegel Memorial Colloquium at the Brookdale Social-Health Center on Aging Workshop, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1976). Religion in the public schools. Journal of Current Social Issues, 13 (3), 46-51.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1974). The nation's second school system. American Education, 10 (10), 16-28.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1972). Aid to nonpublic schools: historical and social perspectives. Current History, 62, 302-304, 306.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1970, Fall). Values anyone? Notre Dame Journal of Education, 1, 208-216.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1970, March). Rome replies (Act II). America, 122, 330-334.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1970, January). Catholic school in the 1970's. America, 122, 22-23.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1969). Child support or wall of separation: A Roman Catholic educator's point of view. Christian Century, 86, 775-779.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1969, August). Rome listens to the universities. America, 121, 58-60.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Ferment in the Catholic university world. Religious Education, 63, 12-20.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1967, September). Financial crisis in Catholic colleges. America, 117, 298-304.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1967, March). The new Catholic college. America, 116, 414-417.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1961). Federal aid for private and parochial schools? Yes! Current History, 41, 70-76.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, July-August). The dinosaur and the Catholic school. Catholic Mind, 58, 323-331.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, July). New Congo is born. America, 103, 415-416.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, May). Should parish schools be diocesan schools? America, 103, 315.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, May). Red shadows spread in Guinea. America, 103, 274.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, April). Education of our sisters. America, 103, 118-127.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960, April). Democracy in young Africa. America, 103, 10-13.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960). American Catholics: A Protestant-Jewish view. Religious Education, 55, 302-303.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1960). Observations from a Catholic Viewpoint. Religious Education, 55, 273-278.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, December). Congo is restless. America, 102, 376-378.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, November). Africa's doctor of light. America, 102, 263.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, November). First report from Africa. America, 102, 178.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, October). They'll write if they're urged. America, 102, 17.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, September). How much state support? America, 101, 722-728.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, April). Minutes from America's meetings. America, 101, 208.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, April). America's charter subscribers. America, 101, 195-198.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, April). John Dewey and progressivism. America, 101, 16-22.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, April). Catholic schools get a guide. America, 101, 9.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, March). Catholic candidates and public schools. America, 100, 704-705.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1959, March). Freedom of choice in education: a reply to reviews of Freedom of choice in education, by Virgil C. Blum. America, 100, 660.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958, Summer). The Catholic Obligation to Educate. Catholic Lawyer, 4, 238-243.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958, September). Catholic Education's new look. America, 99, 574-576.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958, May). NSF awards: a report. America, 99, 214.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958, February). Phi Beta Kappa and Catholic colleges. America, 98, 597-599.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1958, February). Phi Beta Kappa and Catholic colleges. America, 98, 597-599.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1957, September). Ignorance is no longer bliss. America, 97, 663.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1957, April). How to find and pay teachers. America, 97, 121-124.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1957, March). Educators go to Arden House. America, 96, 722.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, December). Dr. Kilpatrick's eighty-fifth birthday. America, 96, 253.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, September). Spiritual values in public schools. America, 95, 619-620.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, May). Public and private schools talk it out. America, 95, 222-223.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, April). NCEA goes back to school. America, 95, 77.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, April). Too few Catholic Rhodes scholars. America 95, 26-30.
  • McCluskey, N. G., Knoff, G., Slawson, J. & Larson, J. (1956). White House conference on education: Four reports. Religious Education, 51, 5-17.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, December). Ford's $500 million.America, 94, 347.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, December). Inside the White House conference. America, 94, 326-328.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, December). Life gives Americans a Christmas card. America, 94, 369.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, November). Who are Jehovah's Witnesses? America 94, 204-208.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1955, November). Corn in the ivy. America, 94, 173.

Book Reviews

  • McCluskey, N. G. (1978). John Courtney Murray: Theologian in conflict. [Review of the book John Courtney Murray: Theologian in conflict]. Religious Education, 73, 363-364.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1976). Amoral America. [Review of the book Amoral America]. Religious Education, 71, 341-344.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1966). God in education, a new opportunity for American schools. [Review of the book God in education, a new opportunity for American schools]. Religious Education, 61, 302-303.
  • McCluskey, N. G. (1956, June). Great danger is in what's missed. [Review of the book The Catholic in secular education]. America, 95, 326.

Book Reviews of Books by Neil G. McCluskey

  • Cohen, N. E. (1982). Aging and retirement / Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning and policy [Review of the books Aging and retirement and Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning and policy]. Social Casework, 63, 623-624.
  • Garr, W. G. (1959, January). To teach good men [Review of the book Public Schools and Moral Education]. America, 100, 472.
  • Getzel, G. S. (1981). Aging and society / Handbook of human services for older persons [Review of the books Aging and society / Handbook of human services for older persons]. Social Casework, 61, 567-568.
  • Gilgore, W. J. (1960). Public Schools and Moral Education: The influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey. [Review of the book Public Schools and Moral Education: The influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey]. The Journal of Church and State, 2, 37-43.
  • Hechinger, F. D. (1960, February 7). Church, state, school [Review of the book Catholic Viewpoint on education]. New York Times, BR6.
  • Jonsen, A. R. (1970, Fall). The Catholic university: a modern appraisal. [Review of the book The Catholic university]. Notre Dame Journal of Education, 1, 281-283.
  • Kendall, W. (1959, April). Lowest common denominator [Review of the book Public Schools and Moral Education]. National Review, 6, 655-656.
  • Lawler, J. G. (1960). Catholic Viewpoint on education. [Review of the book Catholic Viewpointon education]. Theological Studies, 21, 319-320.
  • Lazareth, W. H. (1960). >Public Schools and Moral Education: The influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey. [Review of the book Public Schools and Moral Education: The influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey]. Lutheran World, 7, 367-368.
  • Levenson, A. J. (1981). Aging and society [Review of the book Aging and society]. Journal of Education for Social Work, 17 (1), 119-120.
  • Palmore, E. (1989). The 1980 texts in social gerontology [Includes a review of the book Aging and retirement: Prospects, planning and policy]. Journal of Psychotherapy and the Family, 51 (1-2), 211-224.
  • Ryan, J. T. (1971). The Catholic university. [Review of the book The Catholic university]. Religious Education, 66, 72-73.
  • Smylie, J. H. (1960). Catholic Viewpoint on Education. [Review of the book Catholic Viewpoint on Education]. Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 54, 52-54.
  • Vieth, P. H. (1959). Public Schools and Moral Education [Review of the book Public Schools and Moral Education]. Religious Education, 54, 466-467.

Excerpts from Publications

McCluskey, N. G. (1959). Catholic Viewpoint on education. Garden City, NY: Image Books. (pp. 15-16).

"When the first settlers came to North American shores, they brought with them the ideas, the language, the religion, and the general culture of the countries they left behind. The social institutions they had known in the Old World were the models they strove to re-create on the shores of New Spain, or New France, or New England, or New Amsterdam. The schools they built in the early colonial period were generally indistinguishable from schools in Spain, France, England, or Holland. In building them the colonists had in mind the same curriculum, the same purposes, and the same class of people served in the old country, and yet, when social institutions are transplanted, they tend to take on the coloring of their new environment. The same process which slowly transformed the European colonies into the United States of America changed European schools into American institutions with decidedly New World characteristics. The Catholic schools likewise were strongly affected by these influences, so much so that the development of the modern Catholic parochial or private school cannot be fully understood except in the broader current of American culture" (emphasis as in original).

McCluskey, N. G. (1965). The dinosaur and the Catholic school. In W. Kolesnik & E. Power (Eds.), Catholic Education: A book of readings. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. (pp. 111-112).

"Since 1940, American Catholic school enrollment has increased 147 per cent, so that today our elementary and secondary schools enroll slightly more than five million pupils. This is truly a remarkable achievement. There is little time, however, for the kind of preening and mutual admiration that induces euphoria; There is always a temptation to look upon bigness as a guarantee of security and survival. It is not. Back in the good old days of the Mesozoic Era, nothing more grand and fearful strode the earth than the mighty brontosaurs and tyrannosaurs and stegosaurs. Yet these fierce monsters with their tiny brains and huge bodies, along with the rest of the dinosaur family, suddenly disappeared. Paleontologists generally agreed that one reason these unwieldy giants became extinct is that they were unable to adapt to new conditions imposed by climatic upheavals. There may not be an ice age ahead for us, but if Catholic Education is to continue to flourish in the decades ahead, those responsible for leadership must be keenly aware of present challenges and make required adaptations."

McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Catholic Education faces its future. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. (pp. 39-40).

"The role of the Catholic school is not the simple one of teaching a set of formulas but in a thousand imperceptible ways to impact an attitude toward life as a whole. It is Catholicism as a culture, not as a conflicting creed, which is at odds with the spirit of the modern world and in a sense makes Catholics a people apart. Christian or Christ-centered culture is the supreme integrating principle from which proceeds all activity within a truly Catholic school. Christianity cannot be reduced to a series of propositions or a oral code that is apart from a man's [woman's] life, for it is in essence the light and life that illumines and vitalizes all his [her] activity. From this point of view-and, in the ideal order -schooling and formation, which are distinct, are inseparable. True, the individual can himself [herself] realize the synthesis but it is much more natural for a child or adolescent to grow in Christian culture within a Christian atmosphere under the guidance of those who share it with him" (emphasis as in original).

McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Catholic Education faces its future. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. (p. 135).

"A Catholic school is a good school when it is adequately staffed by a professionally trained faculty, is led by an imaginative administration, is properly financed, has clear goals, and is accountable to a concerned school board. A Catholic school is a good Catholic school when, with all of these components, there is an atmosphere reflecting the special goals and functions of the Catholic community" (emphasis as in original).

McCluskey, N. G. (1970). Introduction. In N. G. McCluskey (Ed.), The Catholic university: A modern appraisal. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. (p. 1).

"Of necessity the university leads a precarious life. If it responds too easily to social pressures, the university looses its leadership muscle. If it is impervious to the needs of the times, it becomes arteriosclerotic and is by-passed. It cannot be too far out in front; it dare not fall behind. One world leader has likened it to 'a city of the mind, a vast classroom of instruction, a laboratory of discovery and research, an infinity of small rooms containing solitary scholars and writers, a studio of artistic production, an endless conversation, a meeting place of scholars and a home for its students' (Pope Paul VI. Letter to the president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities on the opening of the 1965 General Conference in Tokyo, dated August 24, 1965)
"What of the church-related university? Who needs it? The immediate reply is: No one more than the Church itself."

McCluskey, N. G. (1970, Fall). Values anyone? Notre Dame Journal of Education, 1 (3). (p. 208).

"In tones clear, abrasive, and challenging, contemporary writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. talk about values to an eager audience in ways unimaginable by most of us pundits of the podium or pulpit.
"In a scene from one of his novels, Vonnegut tells of the poet-philosopher Trout, who hypothesizes an American society in which machines have replaced men [women] as workers, except for people with three or more Ph.D.s (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1965, pp. 20-21). The country is overpopulated. Science and medicine have eliminated disease. Voluntary death has become an act of patriotism. To encourage volunteers for death, the government has established a 'purple-roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor at every major intersection, right next door to an orange-roofed Howard Johnson's.' With fourteen painless ways to die, the suicide parlors are crowded night and day since nearly everybody feels 'silly and pointless.' Also each candidate for suicide gets a gala meal free next door.
"One of the clients asks a pretty death stewardess if he would go to heaven. She assures him that he would. Would he see God? 'Certainly, honey,' she tells him.
"His reply is shattering. 'I sure hope so. I want to ask Him something I never was able to find out down here.'
"'And what's that?' the death stewardess asks, strapping him in.
"'What the hell are people for ?'
"How does a person acquire a sense of value? What does give meaning to life?
"Even though open or direct discussion of man's [woman's] purpose in life rarely seems to arise anymore (it is legally taboo in the public school classroom), young people seem to intuit the centrality of purpose in man's [woman's] life, even when they are vague about its meaning and implications. Without some kind of faith to transcendence or some awareness of a destiny more exalted than a pet canary's, it is hard to see why anyone should struggle to stay alive."

McCluskey, N. G. (1959). Catholic Viewpoint on education. Garden City, NY: Image Books, chapters 1-4.

Chapters 1-3 of Catholic Viewpoint on Education present a social history of primary and secondary schooling from the colonial era to the mid-twentieth century. McCluskey's perspective is distinctively Catholic, but is also informed by a deep commitment to the democratic values and freedoms of the United States. Chapter 4 presents a Catholic philosophy of education that draws from the rich resources of Catholicism and that, at the same time, is influenced by an understanding of the theories and practices of public education in the United States. These chapters are, perhaps, the best of McCluskey's early writing, and are one of McClusky's best efforts to address the educational concerns of both Catholics and those from other faith and philosophical traditions and to try to draw these groups into greater dialogue with one another.

McCluskey, N. G. (1963). Public funds for parochial schools? Yes! In E. Shoben, Jr (Ed.), Religion in the schools (pp. 1-8). . New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.

This is one of the best examples of McCluskey's efforts to present a Catholic Viewpoint on Education to a broad audience. McCluskey draws from constitutional and federal law and appeals to democratic values and freedoms to support his claims that public funds should be used for parochial schooling and that Catholics have a right to educational choice.

McCluskey, N. G. (1964). America and the Catholic school. In N.G. McCluskey, ed., Catholic Education in America (pp. 1-44). New York: Teacher's College, Columbia University, Bureau of Publications.

This essay presents a brief history of Catholic schooling in the United States. McCluskey shows clearly how U.S. Catholics responded to developments in United States public education as they developed a Catholic approach to education. The essay also provides an example of McCluskey's challenge to U.S. Catholic educators to reflect critically on both the strengths and limitations of U.S. Catholic Education.

McCluskey, N. G. (1968). Catholic Education faces its future. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc.

McCluskey's most comprehensive and fully developed account of educational and religious educational theory and practice is found in Catholic Education Faces its Future. In Chapter one McCluskey discusses the development and distinctively religious character of Catholic Education in the United States and how Catholic Education has contributed to social progress. He also distinguishes education from schooling and offers definitions of education and religious education. Building upon the conceptual outline provide in this initial chapter, McCluskey then explores the historical background, post-Vatican II context, and future possibilities for Catholic Educationin the United States.

McCluskey, N. G. (1970, Fall). Values anyone? Notre Dame Journal of Education 1, (3), 208-216.

"Values Anyone?" presents McCluskey mature thought on morality, religion and educational theory and practice in the United States. The essay begins with a focus on the importance of nurturing moral and religious values if a person is to develop a sense of the meaning and significance of life. McCluskey also discusses the essential nature of moral and religious instruction in Catholic Education and how moral and religious education can be supported by public schools working collaboratively with religious institutions.

Video and Audio Resources

Bragger, L.; Kennedy, F.; McCluskey, N. G. & Gantz, K. (1981). The image of older people on TV. On All about TV. New York: WNYC-TV. [K. Gantz, interviewer; L. Bragger, F. Kennedy, N. G. McCluskey, interviewees.

All about TV was a syndicated television series produced by S. H. Scheuer.]

Sherry, P. H. (1979). Religion in the public schools / Neil G. McCluskey. In P.H. Sherry, Our heritage, our hopes (Sound recording, interview). New York: United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.

Select Secondary Sources

Gallin, A. (2000). Negotiating identity: Catholic higher education since 1960. . Notre Dame: University of Note Dame Press.

Grant, M. A. & Hunt, T. C. (1992) Catholic school education in the United States: Development and current concerns. . New York: Garland. 

Metzger, L. (ed.), & Gareffa, P. M. & Staub, D. A. (Assoc. Eds). (1984). McCluskey, Neil Gerard 1921-. Contemporary authors: New revision series 12. . Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 310.


Author Information

Harold Daly Horell

Harold D. Horell is a tenured assistant professor of religious education at the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. He teaches courses in moral education; social ministry; the religious and educational development of children, youth, and young adults; and the history of religious education. Dr. Horell holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in Theology and Education from the Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM). Before moving to Fordham University he served as Associate Director for Academic Affairs at the Boston College IREPM from 1997-2003.