‘I Just Wish He Was Here’: Suburban Priest Talks Friendship With Chris Farley

He was on of Saturday Night Live's most popular comedians.

Chris Farley died in Chicago when he was only 33 years old, and a new documentary celebrates his life.

The film includes Farley's friendship with a college pal who later became a Chicago priest. He was also the inspiration for the name Farley used in his famous skit "Matt Foley Down by the River."

Foley met Farley at Marquette University in the '80s. The pair played on the same rugby team and their bond last for years.

"Chris was at my first mass when I got ordained," Foley said. "We always had something in common -- spirituality, friendship and also care for human beings."

Farley told Foley he'd be taking his now famous sketch using Foley's name to "Saturday Night Live," and the sketch was later named SNL's "greatest skit ever" by Rolling Stone.

"All of a sudden I heard, 'My name's Matt Foley and I live in a van down by the river,'" Foley said. "I blushed and of course nobody could see that. I kind of sunk down in my chair and said 'Oh my God.'"

Foley knew Farley battled addictions, but also saw a spiritual side to his friend.

"Alcohol and drugs were a demon for him, and he spoke of that, but he also felt that God's grace and God's mercy and God's forgiveness and people's forgiveness were greater than some of the demons you encounter in life," Foley said. 

Foley went on to be a priest in Mexico, Little Village and a military chaplain in Afghanistan before becoming a pastor at St. James in Arlington Heights.

"The sadness is I've not been able to share those moments with Chris because he would have loved to come and visit those places," Foley said. "I enjoy talking about Chris, I just wish he was here."

The documentary "I Am Chris Farley" will have a red carpet opening Friday in Madison, Farley's hometown, and will be available on demand starting next week.

Contact Us