News Detail
Marquette classmates Matt Foley as played by Chris Farley, left, and his friend, the real Fr. Matt Foley.
Fr. Matt Foley Remembers Friend and Marquette Classmate Comedian Chris Farley

October 26, 2015 — The late comedian Chris Farley and his friend, Fr. Matt Foley — the inspiration for Farley’s famous "Saturday Night Live" character — met as members of the rugby team at Marquette University in 1982. Now, more than 30 years later, Fr. Foley recalls his friendship with Farley in a new film.

In the documentary "I Am Chris Farley," released in late June, Fr. Foley describes how much he misses his old friend. Fr. Foley, who serves as head pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, presided over Farley's funeral in December 1997 after the actor and comedian died of an overdose.

"I think about him a lot. He was a very good friend," Fr. Foley said. "You think about growing old with somebody, but at 33 his life was ended. He's missed so many good things."

The documentary shows the gentler side of the famous comedian that Fr. Foley says is truer to his friend's spirit than his rowdy legacy.

"Most of us, we're much more complex than people portray us to be," Fr. Foley said. "There's the public persona and then there's the person you know as a family member and a friend. Chris was that character people think he was, but he was not that character all the time. He also had a reflective side, a spiritual side and a very caring side."

After Marquette, the two were on the same traveling rugby team. When Fr. Foley was in the seminary, Farley would come out to visit him, and they'd play basketball or talk about faith.

"He was very religious," Fr. Foley said of Farley, who attended daily Mass while at Marquette.  


Marquette University's 1982 rugby team, where Chris Farley and Matt Foley met.

When Farley was performing in the earlier stages of his career at Second City, an improv theatre in Chicago, he invented an over-the-top but down-on-his-luck motivational speaker character that he named “Matt Foley.” He eventually brought the Matt Foley character with him to "Saturday Night Live."

In May 1993, Fr. Foley got a call from his old friend. "Matt Foley is going to be on tonight; you've got to watch it," he said. Fr. Foley turned in and heard his name on national TV for the first, but certainly not the last, time. "It was a little shocking," he admitted. "But I thought the skit was hilarious."

Some consider it the best skit in "SNL" history. In it, Matt Foley yells, spits, breaks tables and throws himself around trying to get the message across to two kids (David Spade and Christina Applegate) that if they don't get their act together they, too, will have to live in a van down by the river.

In real life, Matt Foley is a mild-spoken priest who has spent his career bringing faith to some of the toughest places in the world. He spent six years at a mission in Mexico, eight years in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood and did four tours of duty in Afghanistan as an Army chaplain before becoming head pastor of St. James in 2013.

Farley and Fr. Foley maintained their friendship through the years, with Farley asking Fr. Foley for spiritual guidance as he struggled with addiction later in life. They bonded over their deep faith and attended Mass together during Fr. Foley's visits. When Farley achieved his first year of sobriety, Fr. Foley flew out to New York to celebrate. Farley made it to three years sober, but then fell off the wagon several times. Fr. Foley wishes Farley could have met his own nieces and nephews, been to his brothers' weddings — which Fr. Foley presided over — and finally beat his addiction.

"He was very much aware of his struggle, but I think he was a good Catholic in practice because he recognized God's saving grace," Fr. Foley said. [Source: The Daily Herald]





Recent News

January 15, 2018 — In honor of a great man, here are 31 inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. quotes.

January 12, 2018 — Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has selected Fr. William Verbryke, SJ, as its 12th president.

January 10, 2018 — Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, the Jesuit secondary school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has appointed Fr. Timothy A. Howe, SJ, to serve as the school’s next president.

January 8, 2018 — Jesuit Father Anthony J. Corcoran was installed as apostolic administrator of Kyrgyzstan on Dec. 17.

January 5, 2018 — Brendan Coffey, SJ, a Jesuit in formation, is featured in a news report on vocations in the Catholic Church.

January 3, 2018 — Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D., has been named as the 25th president of John Carroll University.

January 1, 2018 — In the early days of 2017, the newly elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, helped set the stage for a year that will be very much remembered for the Jesuits’ care for people at the margins.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 11/13/17

America 10/30/17

America 10/29/17



Jesuit Spirituality Center
Situated on 900 acres of farmland, the Jesuit Spirituality Center at Grand Coteau provides a quiet environment for those seeking God through the Spiritual Exercises.