Priest: ‘James and Michael salt of the Earth, might of the world’

Priest: ‘James and Michael salt of the Earth, might of the world’
Between last week's wake and funeral, clergy estimate 5,000 attendees paid their respects to Manhasset brothers James and Michael Farrell. They were laid to rest at Nassau Knolls Cemetery in Port Washington. (Photo by Samuele Petruccelli)

Six days after being pronounced dead at the scene of a head-on car collision in Quogue, Manhasset brothers Michael and James Farrell were laid to rest at Nassau Knolls Cemetery in Port Washington.

Attendees waited for hours inside The Archangel Michael Church to pay their respects to the decorated collegiate lacrosse players and well-known graduates of Manhasset High School at last Thursday’s wake. After a funeral service the next day, a Suffolk County Sheriff, Suffolk County Police and Port Washington Police motorcade led the procession up W Shore Road for a private burial. Between both the wake and the funeral, clergy estimated there were 5,000 mourners.

The brothers died near midnight on July 24 after a red Nissan maxima, driven by Justin Mendez, 22, of Brookhaven, veered out of the two-lane Montauk Highway and collided with their for-hire vehicle. Mendez was pronounced dead at a hospital, in addition to Ryan Kiess, 25, of Manhasset, and Uber driver Farhan Zahid, 32, of Bay Shore, who both died at the scene.

The sole survivor, Brianna Maglio, 24 of Garden City, was hospitalized in critical condition.

John K. Lardas, presiding priest at The Archangel Michael Church, spoke over a PA system to the families, friends, classmates, teammates, fraternity brothers and neighbors of the young men at the public wake.

“In real estate, it takes years to build up one’s portfolio,” Lardas said, “to get that one investment that sets you for the rest of your life. James and Michael are now discovering the best real estate that exists – the kingdom of heaven.”

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he captained the men’s lacrosse team for the 2018 season, James Farrell, 25, went on to live in New York City and work as an analyst at Mack Real Estate Group. His brother, 20, following a similar path, studied finance and real estate at the University of Villanova.

“>Our hearts are broken following the news out of Long Island this weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Farrell family. James was a captain during the 2018 season for us,” a tweet from Penn Men’s Lacrosse said.

“James Farrell … is a martyr to the spirit of carelessness and to a world that does not comprehend the value of human life,” Lardas said. Michael was named by his parents in honor of their church and Archangel Michael, who stood up against evil. “For all those who know Michael you can understand his incredible spirit, his strength, and his integrity,” the priest said.

Kiess’ public wake and funeral was slated for Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fairchild Funeral Chapel and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Church of Our Saviour, Lutheran.

Quogue police said Mendez’s excessive speed may have played a role in the crash. At a news conference the following Tuesday, Quogue Police Chief Christopher Isola said some marijuana was found in the passenger compartment of Mendez’s vehicle, but he did not say how much or whether the drug played any role in the crash.

The accident is currently under investigation by Quogue police, New York State Police, the National Transportation Safety Board and the state Attorney General’s Office.

“With a strong Christian background, they lived life to the fullest in sports, in choir, with friends and family,” Lardas said about the Farrell brothers. “These young men really brought the fullness of life to everything they did.”

Speaking to a somber crowd sheltered from Thursday’s rain on a line snaking inside a gymnasium, through a venue hall and into the chapel, Lardas asked whose words could console those afflicted by the loss of the beloved Manhasset High School graduates.

“It is the word of Jesus that brought much needed comfort to John the Baptist as he saw suffering from weakness of faith in isolation as a prisoner of King Herod,” Lardas said. “When there are no more words for comfort, it is the touch of the word of God who brought hope and joy in the midst of death.”

“Truly James and Michael are salt of the Earth and might of the world,” Lardas said.

Calling their presence “an incredible witness of the love of a Christian family,” Lardas offered guidance to the thousands who paid their respects and to the extended Manhasset community.

“To truly continue to honor these young men, James, Michael and Ryan, live life in the fullness of God,” Lardas said. “Be kind and gentle to one another, help the poor, the sick, the lonely … be true to yourselves, and to God.”

“We also boast in our sufferings,” Lardas said, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”

Correction: Due to incorrect information from police, an earlier version of this article misstated Brianna Maglio’s age. She is 24, not 22.

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