Paul was born on January 22, 1933 in Detroit, the only child of Marvin and Mary Ann Smithbauer Scanlon. As a young man he dreamed of being a foreign missionary. Eventually he entered the Order of Preachers and received the Dominican habit on August 14, 1952, and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on June 12, 1959.
In addition to his service at St. Peter Martyr in Pittsburg and St. Mary Magdalen in Berkeley, Fr. Paul spent 40 years in leadership positions around the Province. He was elected superior at the Priory of St. Albert the Great (the house of studies in Oakland) in 1967, and two years later was made Provincial. For the next eight years, Fr. Paul worked tirelessly for the sake of the brothers and the people of God. Under his direction, friars began working at parishes in Ashland and Anchorage, and took on campus ministries in Riverside, Tempe and Tucson.
Then Fr. Paul’s dream came true and he was assigned to our mission at the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Mexicali. While there, he built four churches and learned a great deal about the needs of the poor. After serving in Mexicali, he became the pastor of St. Dominic’s Church in Los Angeles. This is when he traveled to Manila in order to learn Tagalog.
After a few years in Los Angeles, he moved to Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, where he served until his sabbatical at St. Christopher by the Sea Church in Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. From here, he wrote Finding the Elusive God, about his time in the missions and how he discovered the presence of God in the ordinary struggles of day-to-day life.
In 2007, he made his way to San Francisco as prior of St. Dominic’s Church. He was then called back to Southern California, where he served in parish ministry and as chaplain to the Dominican Nuns in Hollywood.
Fr. Paul died on November 19, 2015 in Los Angeles.
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