Tom Meo’s girlfriend, Loralynn, and the Rev. William J. Chiriaco of St. Anselm Church delivered thoughtful and moving tributes to the slain 20-year-old.
To the Rev. William J. Chiriaco, pastor of St. Anselm Church, Thomas C. Meo was like the title figure in the acclaimed biofilm Brian’s Song.
To Meo’s girlfriend, Loralynn Ingresso, he was like “a ray of sunshine” and “always good at heart.”
Both Ingresso and Chiriaco delivered thoughtful and moving tributes to Meo during the Bucks County murder victim’s funeral mass on Thursday morning before hundreds of relatives, friends and well-wishers at the Parkwood church.
“People will remember how Tom died. But it’s not how he died. It’s how he lived. He did live,” the priest said in his homily, invoking a theme from the concluding scene of the 1971 film about former Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in the prime of life.
Chiriaco used several analogies and metaphors to expound upon the circumstances of the 20-year-old’s death and their impact on his loved ones, as well as the community at large. He compared the general sentiment to a line from Gordon Lightfoot’s hit The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The song chronicled the 1975 demise of a freight liner, the S S Edmund Fitzgerald, in a storm on Lake Superior. The Fitzgerald was the largest ship ever to sink on the Great Lakes. Twenty-nine crew died in the disaster.
“Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn minutes into hours,” Chiriaco said, quoting Lightfoot’s lyrics.
The pastor explained that in times of such deep anguish, the grief-stricken may begin to question their faith. But they should rely on their faith in difficult times, much like a boy standing at the edge of the sea and leaping as high as he can in hope of seeing a foreign shore.
From that vantage, the boy will never be able to see the foreign shore, but he’s certain it’s there.
“Each of you is spiritually looking for God,” he said. “You know he’s there, but right now, it’s difficult to find him.”
Meo’s remains were discovered buried with two other murder victims on an uninhabited 90-acre farm in Solebury Township on July 12. A fourth murder victim’s remains were later found buried elsewhere on the property. The other victims included Meo’s longtime friend, Mark R. Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg; Jimi T. Patrick, 19, of Newtown; and Dean A. Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township. Meo was living in Plumstead Township.
Authorities in Bucks County claim Cosmo DiNardo, 20, of Bensalem, lured the four victims to his family’s property under nefarious pretenses on July 5 and 7 and shot them. DiNardo’s cousin, Sean Michael Kratz, 20, of the Northeast’s Lawndale section, allegedly took part in three of the slayings. Both defendants are imprisoned on first-degree murder charges.
Chiriaco told mourners not to surrender to the natural urge to seek retribution violently.
“That’s a human tendency,” the priest said. “Tom’s death should not be the cause of this. Tom’s death should be the turning point in the violence.
“‘Make me a channel of peace,’” Chiriaco continued, quoting the Prayer of Saint Francis. “That’s the way we should look at Tom’s death today.”
In her eulogy, Ingresso said she met Meo in late 2015 and the two quickly became inseparable.
Meo was baptized and received his First Communion at St. Anselm and began grade school there. But he later attended Russell C. Struble and Valley elementary schools, as well as Cecelia Snyder Middle School, all in Bensalem Township. He graduated in 2014 from Bensalem High, where he wrestled for four years and ran track for two years. He studied at East Stroudsburg University for a year but returned home to pursue carpentry.
Ingresso loved Meo for his upbeat personality, “striking individuality,” “infectious high-pitched laugh” and consideration for others before himself.
“Tom was always making those around him smile and giggle,” Ingresso said. “He was always unashamed to be himself.”
She remembered how they enjoyed sightseeing in Philadelphia together, how he liked to “freestyle” rap while riding in the car and how “he was like my own personal handyman.” Meo was always sensitive to her feelings and “never made me feel small or unreasonable.”
“He could turn a sad situation into a happy one,” Ingresso said. ••
William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.