Father Muskens was not only a unique person but also a well-respected man: wise, capable, no-nonsense and deeply interested in those around him. But in a most charming way he could also wrong-foot a person, regardless of their status. His colleagues would find him pleasant and inspiring, but also inscrutable at times.
He was principal of our school in turbulent times – the famous sixties – with controversial social themes such as a shifts in power-balance, participation and social unrest among students. Those were the times of freedom and imagination, personified by young, enthusiastic coordinators and their mentor-teams whom he trusted fully. As a sign of the times he let imagination reign. He supported pupils’ counselling and educational reforms such as Mastery Learning and Remedial Teaching, which made the school popular and sought after among parents and their children.
He was averse to flattery or compliments and simply ‘did his job’. Although he was headmaster and a very good one, he preferred not to be addressed as such. He knew how to delegate because he believed that other people should be trusted with their specialties. He acted the same way in the Wijert-building.
Muskens lived a sober life, disliked festivities and discouraged P.E.-teachers to take part in sports days since there was always a risk there of getting injured. Although the winters tended to be severe in those days, he was reluctant to allow free days for all-school skating excursions, although he sometimes gave in, be it under pressure.
Not only was ‘Mus’ keen to get to know teachers and other staff, he also wanted to know the pupils. And so he could be seen at the top of the stairs every morning, studying the faces of everybody coming up. He preferred to have lunch with as many unknown pupils as possible, so he used to join random tables in the hall at lunchtime and chatted with his fellow-lunchers.
Lots of anecdotes were told about father Muskens, and nobody could tell you whether they were true or not, least of all Mus himself! For quite a while it was a custom among people who held farewell- or thank-you-speeches to commemorate Mus with a saucy anecdote: about his vow of poverty, his wit, his austere lifestyle.
After his retirement in 1977 he devoted himself to mental and pastoral care for the elderly, in the same spirit that had guided him in his educational career: with wisdom, sympathy and humbleness. He also picked up his studies again. Due to his educational career he had not been able to keep up with the latest publications in his original fields of interest: theology, philosophy and classical languages.
The following is a summary of an article father Muskens wrote for the memorial book on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the school.