By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Café on Vine served generous portions of compassion and forgiveness during a prayer service for healing of its community Aug. 21.
The service was in response to a violent episode July 31 that started at the café with the assault of a volunteer. It ended minutes later on a Davenport bridge with the death of the volunteer’s alleged attacker and serious injuries to a police officer attempting to subdue the man.
About 30 people participated in the prayer service, including the assaulted volunteer and a cousin of his alleged attacker.
“Wherever there has been violence, we need to gather to pray for healing and peace and to rededicate ourselves to the common good, to peace, justice, harmony and unity,” said Msgr. Marvin Mottet, a founder and board president of Café on Vine.
He offered prayers for those who had been injured, volunteer Rylan Bebermeyer and Davenport Police Officer Clif Anderson; their alleged attacker, Steve Mallory, and his family and friends. Msgr. Mottet prayed for the café’s guests, workers, volunteers, donors and supporters.
And he prayed for more and better health care for those who suffer from mental illness.
Then he asked the participants to stand and extend their arms in prayer over the neighborhood.
Bebermeyer read from Ephesians 4:30-32, which calls on Christians to be kind to one another, compassionate and forgiving of one another as God has forgiven them.
“I have no other choice in my life but to forgive,” Bebermeyer said during a time for sharing thoughts and petitions. He is grateful that he has God in his life and for the guest who helped break his fall after the assault. Bebermeyer temporarily lost consciousness and required stitches to his lip and near his mouth. But he has recovered, and just a slight scar is visible near his mouth. An elementary school music teacher, he’s sure his experience will provide some teachable moments.
Sister Bea Snyder, CHM, a founder and board member of Café on Vine, prayed that all people learn to respond to violence in a nonviolent way. Training on nonviolent intervention and how to solve a situation that becomes tense was to be given the following day for staff and volunteers.
Sr. Snyder had also spoken at Mallory’s funeral, which touched Linda Lee, Mallory’s cousin, and other family members. Lee attended the prayer service.
“She (Sr. Snyder) talked about healing … we need to heal, too,” Lee said afterward.
Mallory had a great sense of humor and was always willing to help others, she continued. But he also experienced highs and lows and had a police record. “The highs were always good and the lows were always bad.” He had stopped taking medication because it made him feel like a zombie, she said.
She took away from the prayer service a sense of forgiveness. “There’s no malice, no anger. People understood his storm,” she said.
“It’s a horrible thing that happened,” said Sister Ruth E. Westmoreland, OSF, the café’s interim coordinator. But the tragedy doesn’t take away from the good that happens here. “There’s something about this place,” Sr. Westmoreland said. “It’s a wonderful, caring, giving place.”