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Western Dominican Province
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA 94618-1626
Our Dominican School
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA offers Masters and other degree and certificate programs rooted in the tradition of the Dominican order and our brother, St. Thomas Aquinas. Faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother, the Church, our school prepares not only young men studying for the priesthood, but also other men and women who will be the leaders of local communities of faith. Please do join in supporting this essential ministry of the Western Dominican Province.
Fr. Lawrence Gerard Farrell, OP
Fr. Larry Farrell, OP died on October 14, 2012 at Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, CA, after a long illness. Born in Spearfish, South Dakota on June 2, 1934, Fr. Larry earned his B.S. degree from Black Hills State College, his M.S. from the University of Oregon. He entered the Western Dominican Province in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1971. He served pastorally in Berkeley and Los Angeles and served two terms as pastor of Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska. He joined Western Dominica Preaching in 1985 and remained there until his retirement. He is survived by two sisters: Harriet Dias and Lucille Fox; and one brother, Eugene Farrell. A Funeral Mass was held on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 at 11am at St. Andrew Newman Center in Riverside, CA. A Vigil Service with Office of the dead and Rosary was held on October 24, 2012 at St. Albert Priory Chapel in Oakland, CA. Fr. Sergius Propst, OP was the homilist. The following day at 10:00am a Funeral Mass was celebrated in the same chapel, followed by burial at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia, CA.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Western Dominican Province for the education of Dominican students
Fr. Larry (Gerard) Farrell, O.P.
June 2, 1934 - October 14, 2012
Larry Farrell was a sensitive soul under a crusty exterior. He was an able confessor, and was not afraid to speak his mind when asked a question. The practical South Dakota farm boy never left him. He was a pastoral practitioner of great skill, and could engender ferocious loyalty in those who love him.
Larry was raised in Western South Dakota (Lead & Spearfish) near the Black Hills, to a farming family that moved into town after his mother died. His father worked a number of jobs, and Larry raised his younger brothers and sisters. He was close to his family, and was connected especially to his youngest sister, Lucy Fox, and his Grandniece, Krista.
Those of us who shared the studentate with him knew Larry as Gerard, after Gerard Majella, whose name he took in the novitiate, when one of his sisters faced a difficult pregnancy. Our shared student years were great fun -Gerard had a wicked sense of humor - but they were also informative, productive, and growth-filled.
Let me begin with his sense of humor. For someone who was, for most of his life quite rotund, Gerard had shockingly low blood-pressure. As a result, his hands were preternaturally cold. One of his favorite tricks, if he heard someone approaching the dark refectory, was to stand beside the door, with his hand over the switch-plate. To encounter Gerard's chill flesh while seeking the light-switch was the stuff of horror films! He sometimes complained of his physique, saying that he looked forward to the glorified body, since the one he got "this time around" was not very great. Gerard was a superb cook and crack pie baker. To eat one of his meals was a true treat. He used to quote a verse from his childhood, in Spearfish, South Dakota, to sum up his notion of a great meal: "Shoo-fly pie and apple-pan dowdy/Make your eyes light up and your stomach say 'howdy!'" I'm not altogether certain what either of those dishes is - he never prepared them for us - but they set a standard the rest of us apprentice cooks strove to meet.
Gerard had spent some time working in a hospital, so he was the natural choice for student infirmarian. As my novitiate year drew to its close, an elderly cooperator brother, Matthew Lord, asked to come to St. Albert's to die. Our superiors turned over Br. Matthew's care to Gerard and me, and I had the honor to be with Matthew when he died. The memory of the two or three weeks before his death - when Gerard and I divided his days between us - remains among the most precious of my Dominican life.
Music may have been Gerard's first and greatest love. He directed all things musical when we were students, and he drew the most glorious sounds from the student brothers. The orchestras he assembled for the Priory's Christmas Midnight Masses were amazing, and none who heard them will ever forget the French horns. Perhaps his happiest assignment was with Frank Vicente at St. Mary Magdalen, where he assembled a choir famous for rivaling the Oakland Cathedral choir, much to the dismay of the Cathedral music director. Under Larry's able direction, the choir performed Mozart's Missa Solemnis. He also spent some happy years at St. Dominic's Los Angeles, where he led a fully staged production of the King & I, including Br. Gregory Lira as a cast member!
Larry's years at Anchorage from 1977 to 1983 were productive ones. He was director of the Diocesan Liturgy Committee, and figured heavily in leadership for the Papal Visit of John Paul II to Anchorage in February 1981. Sometime in those years, he was emboldened to approach the Archbishop to ask permission to buy a new organ, as he felt the existing instrument inadequate for episcopal liturgies - even in a place so remote as Alaska. The Archbishop listened sympathetically, but he was not a great fan of liturgy, so he refused the request as too expensive. The matter seemed closed, but that was to underestimate Gerard's dedication to his cause. Christmas rolled around. The Archbishop arrived to celebrate the Cathedral's Midnight Mass (which was to be televised throughout the state.). Gerard took his place at the organ to lead the evening's music. Mass proceeded as usual, but as the ceremony unfolded, the organ began to produce increasingly ominous sounds until -during the Agnus Dei - it simply fell silent. After the Mass, one of our Dominican brothers queried, "Don't you think it odd that the organ should fail just when the entire state was listening? Surely you don't think Gerard was up there messing around on its insides with a screwdriver?" "It wouldn't exactly surprise me," came the laconic reply. Whatever the case, the Archbishop had a sudden change of heart, and a week or so later, a number of workers, with a series of ropes and pulleys, began installing a new organ in the choir loft.
After he left Anchorage, Gerard joined the Mission Band, and most of us lost sight of him. Still, who can forget Spearfish, South Dakota? I can name only two individuals who hail from there, and, oddly enough, both are associated with music. One is the Wagnerian soprano, Johanna Meier; the other, Lawrence Gerard Farrell. Gerard once attended a reunion in his hometown and was honored to be welcomed by Ms. Meier. May he now be welcomed to his eternal home by even more celestial voices!
-Reginald Martin, O.P. and Donald Bramble, O.P.
|2 June 1934||5 Sept 1966||18 June 1971||14 October 2012|
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