Father Michael A. Farano
Father Michael A. Farano

Father Michael A. Farano was known for many things in the Diocese of Albany: a skilled administrator with unparalleled pastoral gifts, a true disciple of Jesus Christ who was a be­loved pastor in the Capital District, but fervently promoted the mission of the Church worldwide.

And that is why the death of Father Farano — who died peacefully on March 24 at the age of 78 — will be felt throughout the Diocese and beyond for some time to come.

“This truly is the end of an era in the Diocese of Albany. Father Farano served the Diocese with fierce dedication for more than 50 years,” the Diocese of Albany said in a statement. “He held so many critical roles, it’s hard to know where to begin the list of accomplishments. He was a force for good throughout our Diocese, and always had the best interests of our priests, our parishes and our people at the center of all he did.

“He will be missed by so many of us who saw him as a mentor, a brother, a friend. While we know Father Farano was prepared for this moment and had lived his life for this moment, we will miss his presence and his witness to the faith.”

Brian Evers, who had known and worked with Father Farano for nearly 20 years, said he was all that and more.

“He was somebody who was the most skilled administrator but also the most skilled pastoral person that I have ever met. Except for my father, there’s no man in this world that I am closer to; I consider him a second dad,” said Evers, the associate director of Safe Environment and director of Pyramid Life Center. “When my dad passed away just six years ago, he was the first phone call (I received). I think what he was for me, he was for everyone else. We kid around that it was almost like he had a clone because he was always where you needed him.”

Whether that need was in India or Brazil, promoting the mission of the Church, or ministering locally, he made his presence felt.

“We used to go out to dinner a lot and he would be in civilian clothes and it didn’t matter where you were — he would walk into D’Raymonds and he was like Norm from ‘Cheers,’ ” Evers said. “You would be somewhere and somebody would know him and they would come up to him and be like, ‘When you buried my mother’ or ‘My kid had an issue’ and that’s the impact that he had.”

Three years ago in celebrating his 50th anniversary to the priesthood, Father Farano wrote in The Evangelist, that “the people of the Church … shaped and formed” his “ministry” and “spirituality.”

“After baptism, priesthood is the greatest gift that God has given me. God has been incredibly good to me,” Father Farano wrote. “He has shown His face to me, especially through the people He has sent me to serve. It is the people of the Church who have shaped and formed my ministry and my personal spirituality. By permitting me to share their lives, in times of joy and in times of sadness, I have seen what patience and perseverance, love and compassion mean. I have seen the face of God and the life of Christ in them. I praise God for the undeserved gift of 50 years of priesthood. I would gladly do it all over again.”

Father Farano was born Dec. 21, 1942 in Glens Falls to Michael and Laura (Palangi) Farano. Father Farano graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Glens Falls in 1960 and entered Mater Christi Seminary in Albany in September of that same year. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Glenmont, a division of Niagara University.

Father Farano was awarded his bachelor’s degree in 1964 and master’s degree in 1967 from Niagara University. He was ordained to the priesthood of the Diocese of Albany on May 18, 1968 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany by Bishop Edward J. Maginn, apostolic administrator of the Diocese.

Father Farano was assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish and St. Joseph’s Academy, both in Albany, from June of 1968 until August of 1973. He then spent several months assisting at St. Bonaventure’s Parish in Speigletown, and in January of 1974, was appointed secretary to Bishop Edwin B. Broderick and vice­ chancellor of the Albany Diocese. In October of 1979, Father Farano was appointed chancellor of the Diocese, a ministry he exercised until December  of 1990, when he was appointed pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Loudonville.

Father Farano remained at St. Pius until June of 2013 and was vicar general of the Diocese until January of 2015. During his years as chancellor and vicar general, Father Farano served in a number of capacities on the diocesan level, including diocesan director for the Pontifical Mission Societies (Propagation of the Faith) starting in 1997. Each week, he wrote about the mission Church in The Evangelist and was passionate about telling the stories of missionary priests and sisters — many of whom he knew, such as Bishop Capistran F. Heim, OFM, or Sister Gloria Esposito, DC — that were then published in the paper during World Mission Sunday in October.

Over the years he also was a member of a number of church and community boards, including: the Human Rights Commission in Albany, Doane-Stuart School, the Italian American Culture Foundation of the Capital District, Project Strive (for underprivileged youths), The College of St. Rose and the Urban League. In 1998, he was appointed by the Albany County Legislature to be the chairperson for the Albany County Airport Authority, a position he held for over eight years.

Most recently, he was sacramental minister at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Albany, where he worked directly with Elizabeth Simcoe, parish life

director, who called Father Farano’s death a  “very painful loss for me personally as well as our community.”

But Simcoe’s relationship with Father Farano began long before that.

“I worked with Father Farano for nine years when he served as vicar general/moderator of the Curia and I was the chancellor for Pastoral Services. We sat in possibly a thousand meetings during which I experienced him as an astute listener and judge of situations, whether they were financial or of pastoral concern,” she said. “He could defuse a heated situation or disarm an antagonist with just a story, and he had a million of them. He was a tremendously responsible individual who acted with an inspiring degree of integrity. He loved the Church, but he was not naive about her flaws.

“He was/is much loved at St. Vincent’s. His wealth of human experiences and life of prayer brought tremendous insight to his reflection on the Scriptures and his preaching. He was welcoming to all and made it possible for the least among us to know and believe in God’s personal love for them. He was a true disciple of Jesus Christ and helped the community members to find their own path of discipleship.”

Father Farano is survived by his sister, Angela (Michael) Smith of Glens Falls, his brother-in-law, John Funicello of Venice, Fla., and his nephews, Raymond (Lisa) Gifford of Latham, Michael (Wendy) Gifford of Ballston Lake, Anthony Gifford (Tobey) of Queensbury, Laura (Eric) Buonviaggio of Venice, Fla., Michael (Kim) Smith of Queensbury, and Richard (late Kim) Smith of Queensbury. He also is survived by a number of grand and great-grand nieces and nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, his sister, Concetta Funicello, and by his niece, Kim Girard Smith.

A Mass of Christian Death and Burial was held March 29 at the Church of St. Pius X with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger serving as the principal celebrant. The homilist was Father Dominic Ingemie, a classmate of Father Farano’s. Donations in Father Farano’s memory can be made to the Farano Center for Children, 27 North Main Ave,, Albany, N.Y., 12203, St. Pius X Parish, 23 Crumitie Road, Loudon­ville, N.Y., 12211 or St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 900 Madison Ave., Albany, N.Y., 12208.

In his self-written obituary, Father Farano said that he was “grateful to all who have been part of his journey in this life,” asked for prayers for his soul and finished with words from Psalm 27: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple.”