Friday, September 7, 2018

Rev. Matt Foley, New Interim Administrator at Chicago Car Sex Priest Parish, Was Inspiration for Chris Farley's "I Live in a Van Down by the River" Character

Daily Herald (suburban Chicago), August 2, 2015

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced today that Rev. Matt Foley, pastor of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, would be the interim administrator of the nearby Mission San Juan Diego, the scandal-wracked parish that recently woke up to the news that its then pastor, Diego Berria, had been arrested in Miami for having public car sex with another priest. This was only three years after an associate pastor at San Juan Diego was arrested and later convicted for possessing child porn.

It turns out that Rev. Foley was a rugby team friend of the late Chris Farley at Marquette. Indeed, he was partly the inspiration for the comedian's famous "I live in a van down by the river" motivational speaker character.

Farley based the character on some of the characteristics of his father and an old football coach, but named him "Matt Foley" the night that his friend, the newly ordained Rev. Matt Foley, was in the audience at Second City for one of the first performances of the skit.

According to suburban Chicago's Daily Herald in 2015:
Foley met Farley on the first day of rugby practice in 1982. Farley was a freshman. Foley was a year older and not sure what to think of the big guy who showed up to practice in nice shorts and a polo shirt with his collar popped. 
"He was kind of a prepster. Rugby is a rugged group, and I thought he might have a difficult time. But he fit right in and he was a pretty decent athlete, too," Foley remembered. 
Farley didn't hesitate to use his size to make others laugh, a skill that he would continue to capitalize on for years to come. 
"He was really creative in terms of his physical comedy even back then," Foley said. After college the two were on the same traveling rugby team. When Foley was in seminary in Mundelein, Farley would come out to visit him, and they'd play basketball or talk about faith. 
"He was very religious," Foley said. Farley attended daily Mass in college and continued to ask Foley for spiritual guidance as he struggled with addiction later in life. 
A few years later, Foley was a newly ordained priest working in North Lawndale and Farley was onstage at Second City. 
There, he invented an over-the-top but down-on-his-luck motivational speaker character that he based on both his father and his old football coach. If he had a friend in the audience the character that night would take the friend's name. 
"My name is Matt Foley, and I'm a motivational speaker," Farley began one night when Foley was in the audience. The two went out after the show, and Farley told him he wanted to keep using that name. 
When Farley got to "Saturday Night Live," he intended to bring the Matt Foley character with him. 
On May 8, 1993, Foley got a call from his old friend. "Matt Foley is going to be on tonight; you've got to watch it," he said. 
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."
Okay. Is there anything wrong with that?

Of course not. The best priests attend Second City all the time.

That was a joke.

In seriousness, Foley's accounts of his relationship with the baptized and (according to Foley) at times devout Catholic Farley, described in numerous interviews and articles as well as a 2015 documentary on Farley's life, are interesting and occasionally moving. One imagines or hopes that their friendship helped the extremely troubled Farley in some way.

But at the least it's an odd fact that illustrates the...looking for a right word...zaniness of what we might call Cupich Church.

Since his name was taken for The Man in the Van, Rev. Foley, 50, worked at a number of parishes in Chicago. He also spent time ministering to the poor in Mexico and served both his country and the Church as a chaplain with special operations units in Afghanistan.

Foley's work in Afghanistan, where according to reports he repeatedly risked his life, sounds more than admirable. He doesn't appear to be a soft prelate, let alone a member of the Lavender Mafia.  

But in other ways he does appear to be a solid Francis/Cupich priest.

When Cupich was chosen as Archbishop of Chicago (forced in, as we now know, by Pope Francis and Cardinal McCarrick against the wishes of many), Foley was quoted in the Chicago Tribune waxing hopeful and making a recommendation:
I would emphasize spreading the good news as opposed to telling people what to believe.
Foley listed Toni Morrison as his former "favorite leisure author".

And just a few days ago the Facebook page of St. James Parish linked to Vigano attacker and Francis defender Cynthia Wooten's article on Francis' diagnosis of "clericalism" as the central problem in the sex abuse crisis. It was the parish's only link to a news story on the crisis.

But it's Cupich Church, so what would you expect?

How many priests in Chicago don't love Toni Morrison?

And maybe The Man Who Lives in a Van Down by the River is exactly what is needed to clean up a parish at ground zero of the Chicago homosexual priest network.

I hope so. But I doubt it. 

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