Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Rev. Regis M. Farmer July 27, 1946 - Aug. 17, 2017 Priest Connected with Parishioners with Passion, Generosity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Rev. Regis M. Farmer July 27, 1946 - Aug. 17, 2017 Priest Connected with Parishioners with Passion, Generosity

Article excerpt

After he returned from a trip to the Sea of Galilee several years ago, the Rev. Regis M. Farmer told his friends a story.

He said he was standing on the shore of the sea, contemplating the miracle of Jesus walking on water, when he asked a local man how much it would cost to ferry him to the other side.

Fifty American dollars, the man replied.

Father Farmer balked.

"That's why Jesus walked," he cracked.

The longtime Catholic priest's sharp wit often spilled over into his duties at parishes in the Pittsburgh area, where he was known for giving practical homilies deeply rooted in Scripture, forging fiercely personal relationships with his parishioners and working to make real his vision of what the church should be.

Father Farmer, 71, died Thursday of a massive brain bleed. He spent the last five years in Bloomfield as pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish, where he moved in 2012 after leading St. Catherine of Sweden Parish in Hampton for 17 years.

He began his service with the Catholic Church in 1973 and had yearned to be a priest since he was a boy, said his sister, Coleen Tarbi, of Natrona Heights. As an eighth-grader, he asked his mother whether he could go straight to seminary, but she told him to finish high school first, Ms. Tarbi said.

Father Farmer's sermons were passionate and convicted, sometimes a little long-winded, said John Madia, of Gibsonia, a friend.

"When you listened to a sermon, it was just, he was speaking right to you," Mr. Madia said.

And Father Farmer had a special way of connecting with people, his colleagues said, and treated each person as a close friend.

"He really impacted a lot of people," said Michael Arnold, of Gibsonia, a parishioner and colleague. "You felt as though you were very close to him.

"But you knew that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were equally as close. …

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