Rev. John J. Farry, 79, of New Hope, a longtime Catholic priest known for his kindness, compassion, and lively sense of humor, died March 5 of respiratory failure at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne.
Known to parishioners as Father Jack, he was pastor of St. Leo Church in Tacony in the 1990s and 2000s.
“Jack, you have always been in our thoughts and prayers since your retirement from St. Leo's,” friend Scott Adair wrote in an online message. “Never a time goes by that we do not fondly reminisce about our [happy] times and realize that you were the one that helped bring it all together.”
Born in Philadelphia to Joseph A. and Jean Kumbat Farry, Father Farry graduated from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood with the class of 1967.
He was ordained a priest on May 20, 1967, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by Cardinal John Krol.
Father Farry served in various roles at churches in Philadelphia and the suburbs. He was named parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, South Philadelphia, in 1967.
He then served as an assistant pastor at Epiphany Parish, South Philadelphia, starting in 1968; Presentation B.V.M. Parish, Cheltenham, in 1970; St. Cecilia Parish, Fox Chase, in 1975; Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Strafford, in 1979; St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside, in 1982; and St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Croydon, for a short time in 1991.
Father Farry was appointed pastor of St. Leo Church later in 1991 and named pastor emeritus in 2009. The 18-year assignment was the culmination of his career.
He then became senior priest at Queen of the Universe Parish, Levittown, before retiring in June 2015. He was much loved there.
The Rev. John F. Wackerman, his colleague at Queen of the Universe for six years, said Father Farry typically began a sermon with a funny anecdote that would get the congregation laughing and would segue to a Gospel passage to illustrate his point. The technique “hit it on the mark,” Father Wackerman said.
“He had a wonderful sense of humor,” said Father Wackerman. “He made the people laugh. He was a dedicated priest. As he was approaching his 50th anniversary of becoming a priest, he said at dinner one night, ‘If I had to do it all over again, I would.’”
Parishioner Fran Rapposelli wrote in an online message: “I loved your sense of humor and how you compared our everyday struggles with God's teachings. You were very down to earth and called it like it was. You will be missed by us parishioners at Queen of the Universe.”
“You reminded us that even priests can be comedians, while still preaching respect for the Word of God and the Sacraments,” wrote parishioner Joan Curran.
Father Farry often returned to celebrate Mass on the weekends at Queen of the Universe. He was a deeply spiritual man who dedicated his life to serving God and ministering to the parish families, his relatives said in a statement.
“Underneath his dry and witty personality, he had a very kind and gentle heart,” the family said.
He is survived by his brother, Joseph Farry; niece Mary K. McDonough; and nephews Joseph and Anthony Farry.