Kanab extends a hearty welcome to Father Gabriel Farago, the ‘Honky Tonk Priest’, as the newest addition to our area clergy. Father Gabriel serves as a priest and evangelist in the Catholic Charismatic Church.

Coming from a ‘mixed’ household (Roman Catholic father, Lutheran mother) the former country music star learned early on to appreciate the fullness of Christian diversity. “I never once heard my parents argue about religion,” he says, “they often visited each others’ churches!”

Farago initially studied with the Franciscans, later the Jesuits. In fact, the first school he ever attended after coming to America from Hungary was St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery in downtown Manhattan – a Jesuit-run kindergarten!

Not pursuing ministry initially, he taught history for four years before leaving that vocation to pursue a country music singing career in Nashville. Farago’s ‘Christian experience’ (as he calls it) broadened further when he hired a drummer who was a Pentecostal during one of his concert tours in the 80s. “Wow, what an eye opener that was,” he remembers. “It shed a whole new light on the Holy Ghost, the force in our lives as Christians!”

Prior to becoming a priest, Farago was ordained as a Pentecostal minister, but returned to the Catholic Church after six years. “I loved the Pentecostals, but I missed the fullness of the Sacraments of ‘Mother Church,’” he says. That’s when he discovered the CCC (Catholic Charismatic Church)! Although a separate rite from the Roman Catholic Church, the CCC shares the same Apostolic Succession and Sacraments.

“We’re just a little more Spirit-filled and evangelical,” Farago says with a grin. “The pastor who originally ordained me calls me ‘Mr. Holy Ghost Power’ whenever I tell him of the people I get ‘saved.’ I love evangelizing!” For that reason, Father Gabriel specifically asked his archbishop for permission to use the title ‘evangelist’ as well.

Regarding religions and theology, the Honky Tonk Priest is thankful for the diversified experiences he has had with the various denominations and fellowships over the years. “Although I find the Catholic faith to most closely embody the Apostle’s and early Christian’s worship, tradition and beliefs, all of the denominations are a beautiful part of the Body of Christ. They all bring something special to the table! They just emphasize certain aspects of the Gospel Message a little differently, but it’s still the same Message,” he says.

Father Gabriel points out that the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Charismatic Church (‘Old Succession’) are valid for Roman Catholics as well. “At the Vatican on June 16, 2000, Pope John Paul II ratified and ordered publication of Dominus Iesus. In this declaration, the Roman Catholic Church recognized the validity of ‘Orders and Sacraments’ of priests of the Greek (Eastern) Orthodox, Old Catholic and Polish National Churches.” For further details regarding Dominus Iesus, please refer to: www.CatholicCharismaticChurch.org, then click on “What is the CCC” (left side link).

Farago says he’ll never forget the night he said ‘yes’ to his call. “I was driving through Louisiana when it struck me. My dad wanted to be a professional musician, but was talked into becoming a doctor instead. My grandfather was in his last year of seminary – months from becoming a priest – but married and then taught college! For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit brought both of their original hearts’ desires to fruition in me. Tears poured down my face when I realized it. All I kept saying was, ‘Oh my God, thank you Jesus!’”

Father Gabriel will be celebrating his first Kanab ‘Revival’ Mass (with healing service) shortly. Watch for the announcement in the Southern Utah News.