Farley, 57, a priest for 30 years, served his last Masses at his parish here in March.
The former priest talked recently about his years as a priest, the process that led him to give it up, and the life heâ€™s embraced since he left.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Â Q: Why did you become a priest?
A: I was raised a Catholic, and my faith was important to me. And then the next question was, â€œLord, what do you want me to do?â€ The idea of the priesthood came to me. As a sophomore, I transferred to Mount Angel Seminary. I did OK, academically, socially. But I guess the real reason I became a priest is I wanted to serve.
Â Q: How do you describe your 30 years as a priest?
A: The thing that I always come back to is thereâ€™s this incredible honor as a priestâ€”being invited into the middle of peopleâ€™s relationship with God. Itâ€™s an intimate place. Itâ€™s a privilege.
Â Q: Why did you leave?
A: I fell in love. Early on. More than once. People are attractive and I am not a dolt. Iâ€™d ask myself, â€œAm I going to explore this relationship, risk my priesthood to explore this?â€ and I always said no and ran away. There was this background of lonelinessâ€”and I know that loneliness is existential, that weâ€™re all alone and I donâ€™t believe that a partner can take that away. But romantic love was never an option.
Q: What changed for you?
A: Iâ€™d had a long relationship, a friendship with a woman. And last summer, I realized that I loved her, that I loved someone again. I donâ€™t quite know why, but this time I said Iâ€™m not going to run away, to shut the door. Maybe it was a midlife crisis. Maybe it was loneliness. Maybe it was the boredom of doing the same thing over and over.
I got a good counselor and talked to my spiritual director. The three of us worked for almost four months to unpack this love. It was a very intentional discernment.