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McClory, Robert, 1932-2015



Robert McClory was born in 1932 in Chicago to an Irish Catholic family. He attended Presentation Catholic grammar school on the west side of Chicago, and graduated from Quigley Preparatory Seminary. He went on to St. Mary of the Lake Seminary where he studied to become a priest. McClory was ordained a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1958, following in the footsteps of his older brother. He served at Sts. Faith, Hope, and Charity in Winnetka, Illinois before being transferred in 1964 to St. Sabina, situated in a racially changing neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago. He also worked as a lecturer at Loyola University. McClory left the parish and priesthood in 1971 to marry Margaret McComish, a former Catholic nun. Robert and Margaret McClory have one daughter, Jennifer, born in 1972.

In 1971, McClory earned a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He began writing for the Chicago Defender, a daily newspaper that served Chicago’s African American population. In 1975, the National Newspaper Publishers Association named him recipient of their award for Best Feature Story of the Year. McClory became well renowned in Chicago in 1978 after the publication of his first book, The Man Who Beat Clout City. Its account of Renault Robinson, an African American police officer who confronted the Chicago police department’s racially discriminatory hiring policies, sparked debate throughout the city. Later in his career, McClory became a staff writer for the Chicago Reader and the National Catholic Reporter. He has also written articles for numerous other publications, including the Chicago Tribune, US Catholic Magazine, Chicago Magazine, Illinois Issues, Catholic Digest, Student Lawyer, Illinois Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Lawyer. In the early 2000s, McClory regularly wrote for The Chicago Tribune’s “Perspectives” section. Throughout his career as a journalist, McClory focused his work on the Catholic church, Chicago politics, racial conflicts in Chicago, and poverty. Many pieces reflect his background as a Roman Catholic priest and his view of social justice.

In addition to The Man Who Beat Clout City, McClory is author of eight books. Racism in America: From Milk and Honey to Ham and Eggs (1981) gives accounts of community based programs aimed at combating racism, poverty, and urban decay in a period when federally funded anti-racism and anti-poverty programs of the early 1970s drastically diminished. The remainder of McClory’s books focus on the Roman Catholic Church and its social teachings. McClory wrote Turning Point: The Inside Story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and How Humanea Vitae Changed the Life of Patty Crowley and the Future of the Church in 1995. In 1997 he wrote the Power and the Papacy: The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility, a history of the doctrine of papal infallibility and its impact on the Catholic Church. Faithful Dissenters, published in 2000, gives examples of prominent figures, such as Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, and Galileo, who dissented from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. As It Was In the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church, published in 2007, considers the role of laypeople in the Roman Catholic Church of the twenty-first century by examining their role throughout the history of the Church. It was awarded first prize for best history in 2007 by the Catholic Press Association. McClory’s 2007 book Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice considers the impact of the radical, charismatic Roman Catholic priest Fr. Michael Pfleger on the Archdiocese of Chicago and the south side parish he leads. From the Back of the Pews to the Head of the Class, published in 2013, tells the story of Most Pure Heart of Mary High School in Mobile, Alabama, a segregated Catholic high school, through a compilation of oral histories.

In 1983, Robert McClory joined the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism as an associate professor. He taught introductory courses to undergraduate students, a graduate level summer course focused on religion and media, and advanced courses in magazine writing. The Associated Student Government named him to its Faculty Honor Roll in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996. In 1999 he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Northwestern University Alumni Association and was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism Hall of Achievement in 2008. McClory was named a professor emeritus upon his retirement from Medill in 2003.

Robert McClory passed away on April 3, 2015, following a long illness.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Robert McClory (1932-2015) Papers

Identifier: 16/21

Chicago journalist and author Robert (Bob) McClory wrote about race, class, and religion after graduating from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 1971, where he later taught. His Papers (1970-2014) include biographical materials, teaching notes, research notes, and drafts of articles, as well as many of McClory's published articles from periodicals and newspapers.

Dates: 1970-2015; Other: Date acquired: 06/11/2015

Robert McClory Papers

 Unprocessed Material — Box 1
Identifier: 16-101-16-Addition
Dates: Agreement Sent: 2016-08-24T00:00:00-06:00; Agreement Received: 2016-09-09T00:00:00-06:00; 1974 - 2006

Additional filters:

Unprocessed Material 1
Collection 1
Journalism--Study and teaching 1
Journalists 1
Priests 1