By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — They’re like family, the hungry people who gather weekday mornings outside St. Anthony Church’s parish hall for free soup and sandwiches at McAnthony’s Window. Lately, they’d been missing a member of the family, Paul Lannon John Deuel Jr., 59, the victim of a fatal beating whose body was found Aug. 28 behind the church.
His friend, Brian Keith Amos, was charged with first-degree murder.
As friends and acquaintances struggled to understand what had happened, Father Jack Gallagher, recently retired pastor of St. Anthony’s, thought it would be appropriate to celebrate a memorial Mass for Paul. “They’re like a family there; the people at the window, the people who serve at the window and the parishioners who support the ministry,” Fr. Gallagher said.
The parish’s new pastor, Father Apo Mpanda, agreed that a memorial Mass would be appropriate and arrangements were made to celebrate it at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at St. Anthony’s. Announcements were made during Masses one weekend and at daily Masses. A notice also was posted on McAnthony’s Window.
“Family” responded. Homeless people filled the first three or four rows; Fr. Gallagher presided at the Mass; Fr. Mpanda and Msgr. W. Robert Schmidt (a former St. Anthony’s pastor) concelebrated; cantor Marilyn Davis sang; parishioners, volunteers and others — approximately 75 people all together — came to celebrate Paul’s new life with the Lord.
During his homily, Fr. Gallagher shared the story of the Good Shepherd and assured Paul’s friends that God doesn’t let go of any of his sheep. At the end of Mass, people were invited to share memories about Paul; several did, including his niece, two volunteers from Father Conroy’s Vineyard of Hope, and a longtime friend who played the guitar and sang beautifully about Paul being in a better place. “Don’t be sad,” the friend sang. “Paul’s OK. He’s in the hands of God, like Father said.”
The service was “very touching; sad, yet joyful,” Msgr. Schmidt said. “All of his friends were there. They seemed to be a part of a faith community.”
The turnout heartened Clarence Darrow, a retired judge and legislator, who was a friend of both Paul and Brian. “I thought there’d be maybe 15 to 20 people.” He and others knew Paul to be an avid reader and someone willing to help other homeless people navigate life on the streets. And he’d come to Mass once in a while, Fr. Gallagher said.
“It was a great tribute to Paul. He deserved every bit of it,” said Sister Ludmilla Benda, RSM, who attended the memorial Mass and operates Father Conroy’s Vineyard of Hope in Davenport. Paul helped out as needed at the free meal site named in honor of the late Father Jim Conroy, who with Sr. Benda started McAnthony’s Window more than 20 years ago. Paul “was always willing to help, despite his poor health,” she said.
He was a part of our community,” Fr. Mpanda said. “It was a good thing to do, to remember and pray for him.”