The Man Behind The Beard

Get to know the life of Mr. Farnan!

Mr. Farnan smiles for a staff photo.

Photo courtesy of

Mr. Farnan smiles for a staff photo.

Who is that man in the Santa costume? He is none other than our beloved English teacher, Mr. Farnan! As a junior in high school, Phil Farnan knew he was called to teach. Teaching students is his passion, and he loves education so much that he came out of retirement to continue his teaching career. He has taught English and Language Arts at four different schools, as well as coaching a few debate teams and special Language Arts courses. Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School was founded with his help, and he has been a teacher here since it was first founded. Last year marked his fiftieth-year teaching, an impressive benchmark he is immensely proud of.

If you have ever been in Mr. Farnan’s classroom, then you probably noticed the potted plants surrounding the windows looking out into the courtyard. One of his many hobbies is growing and caring for all types of plants, just like the ones on his window ledges and in his own home. He loves the outdoors and wishes he could spend more time enjoying nature and experiencing God’s beautiful creations. Film photography is another one of his passions, and he loves the old-fashioned way of developing photographs. Nowadays, photo development is not widely used, and Mr. Farnan feels the new methods are less entertaining than they use to be. Nonetheless, he still takes many pictures of beautiful things, and one day he wants to choose his favorites to be printed out and framed. He also has an exceptional talent in the fulfilling past-time of building and fixing things. Mr. Farnan is an accomplished electrician, for he has wired two cabins in Colorado, one of which was seventy years old! During summer break, he added an extension onto his back shed, which he designed and built himself. 

Mr. Farnan has been happily married for fifty-three years and is the father of one girl and two boys, all of which went to school here at Aquinas. They have made him the proud grandfather of eight grandchildren— four boys and four girls— who he loves immensely. He has four younger brothers and two younger sisters, and he is the only one still working, besides his younger brother. Everyone else is happily retired. His morning routine before school is taking his medication and a refreshing shower, then he combs his hair, feeds his cat Stella, says his morning prayer and meditation, checks his email, and then drives to school. When asked what his favorite book is, Mr. Farnan replied he has two favorite books: Alive by Piers Paul Read and Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, because “faith is the key to the theme of both books,” he explained. Faith is a central part of Mr. Farnan’s life. For all we know, he really is jolly old Saint Nick!