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Marian Fathers Remember Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR

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Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, the president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS), died on Jan. 7, 2017, the first First Saturday in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The Marian Fathers have had a House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio, for over a decade, where their men in formation reside in order to complete undergraduate work in philosophy. Here, Marian Fathers pay tribute to Fr. Scanlan, sharing how he and FUS have touched their lives and helped form them for their vocations as consecrated religious.

Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province
Although I had heard about Franciscan University and Fr. Scanlan before, my personal encounter began in 1991 at the initiative of Fr. Scanlan. Always seeking to do God's will by following the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Scanlan decided to supplement the popular Mary Conferences with the message and devotion to the Divine Mercy. He wanted to make the revelations given by Jesus to Sr. Faustina made known. He wished to heed Jesus's desire to proclaim His great love and mercy for all mankind, so he turned to the Marian Fathers, who promote this salvific message and devotion. He invited Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC; Fr. George Kosicki, CSB; and those associated with us in the promotion of this message. He considered the proclamation of the Divine Mercy message under the guidance of Our Lady, not only as a great good for the Franciscan University of Steubenville and its work of evangelization, but also as an effective tool in the New Evangelization. So his understanding of the importance of the message of Divine Mercy for the Church and the need to proclaim it came first in his relationship with our religious community.

We, in turn, saw in him a true brother in Christ and recognized his efforts in making Franciscan University leaven for the Church's renewal.

I had the privilege to speak at this first Mary and Mercy conference. I spoke about Divine Mercy and the Eucharist, and how essential the Eucharist and the Paschal Mystery is, both in understanding and promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion. The following year, to my surprise (but also joy), Fr. Scanlan changed the name of this conference to the "Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist Conference," and that is how it remained for many years.

I appreciated greatly what Fr. Scanlan and Franciscan University were doing through these summer conferences, so much so that I began to take our young men in formation and our newly ordained men to both the Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist Conferences as well as the seminarian and priest retreats. I knew how valuable they were for our young members' spiritual and pastoral formation.

In 1997, recognizing Franciscan University's quality Catholic education and dynamic Catholic spirituality, we made the consequential decision to move our pre-theologate program from Washington, D.C., to Steubenville. We wanted our seminarians to receive not only a quality education, but also to be imbued with the dynamic, evangelizing spirit of love for Christ and His Church that Fr. Scanlan desired and was able to realize. The fruit of our presence at Franciscan University is extraordinary, and for this we are very grateful to our merciful God and our Immaculate Mother.

As blessed as we are, what Fr. Michael Scanlan initiated at Franciscan University is a source of blessing for the whole Church. Many Franciscan University students and alumni are at the forefront of the Church's renewal programs and initiatives. Many others are living out their faith wherever they are with inspiring zeal and dedication. As Fr. Scanlan allowed himself to be led by the Holy Spirit in the service of Christ and His Church to promote His mission of salvation, others followed. Father Scanlan wanted to do whatever the Lord asked of him, and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, he was able to accomplish much. For this, we are truly thankful to him, and ask the Lord to reward him with everlasting life. May the angels lead you, Fr. Michael, into Paradise. May you receive the joys of Heaven.

Father Donald Calloway, MIC, vicar provincial, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy province
Truly the passing of a legend. As a graduate of Franciscan University ('99), I shared many moments with Fr. Scanlan as a student and then later as a brother priest. There is one word that comes to my heart when I think about Fr. Scanlan: AUTHENTIC. Father Mike Scanlan was authentic in every way; he was a great human being, a holy priest, and a tremendous witness to Jesus Christ. I'll never forget what it was like to concelebrate Mass with him and listen to his powerful homilies. We will miss you, Fr. Mike. You have done so much to help souls know and love Jesus Christ and His Church. May you rest in the arms of Jesus and Mary!

Father Chris Alar, MIC, director, Association of Marian Helpers
I fulfilled my philosophy requirements at Franciscan University from 2006-2007. I'd heard the story of how the college had transformed under Fr. Scanlan's leadership from being one of the top party schools in the country to a truly Catholic university. What I saw when I arrived at the university was miraculous: young adults in this day and age valuing chastity, valuing charity, and trying to lead lives faithful to the teaching of the Church. And the one to credit for forming that culture is Fr. Scanlan. He made deep and lasting contributions to the Church in America and around the world through his renewal of Franciscan University, transforming it into a tremendous dynamo of spirituality and authentic Catholic scholarship, changing the lives of many people both through the ordinary work of a university as well as the conferences and opportunities for spiritual renewal Franciscan University has provided for decades. I and so many others owe Fr. Scanlan a debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.

Father John Larson, MIC, house superior, Marian House of Studies, Steubenville, Ohio
In the 1990s, a relationship between the Marian Fathers and Franciscan University of Steubenville developed because of a common interest in Divine Mercy. This resulted in a special Divine Mercy summer conference that turned into a conference called "Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist," which ran for a few years. My introduction to Franciscan University of Steubenville came when I attended the 1995 Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist conference. Father Scanlan was there giving one of the homilies, and his obvious charisma and quick wit were clearly on display. I was attending just after I had been accepted into the Marians as a postulant and would be entering the community in a month, so I saw some Marians there. I had heard from an FUS graduate the story of how Fr. Scanlan transformed a dying party school into a passionately Catholic school.

After the conference, I had a desire to go to school there, but since I was joining the Marian Fathers (who at that time did not have a house in Steubenville), I resigned myself to the reality that it would never happen. Two years later, however, when I made first vows, the Marian Fathers bought a house in Steubenville and sent the future Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and myself there as students.

We remember hearing the excellent homilies of Fr. Scanlan. In fact, I still use some things I heard from those homilies in my homilies. He had a one-track mind, but it was for building up the university for the glory of the Lord. His homilies were very encouraging, almost always positive, and often included a lot of humor, which often involved events from his own life.

I happened to graduate the last year he was president in 2000, so I was among the last to have him read out my name during graduation. Even that was memorable. At the time, I was a brother, so when he read the name, he said, "Brother John Lawrence Larson, MIC, Magna Cum Laude — Wow!" Even such a little thing as a long set of words to read was something he made note of. I think that is a big part of his legacy. Although he was very smart, he had a childlike fascination with the little things others might not notice.

Father Andy Davy, MIC, pastor, St. Mary Catholic Church, Plano, Illinois
A great light in our world has gone on to meet the Lord. If it were not for this man, I would have never gone on an FUS youth conference and would not have heard that first call to priesthood in 1996. I think about the hundreds of young people from my parish transformed by the Steubenville summer youth conferences. One generous life of "yes" to God can set a world on fire. May he rest in peace.

Brother Timothy Childers, MIC
Very early on in my conversion to the Catholic faith back in 2008, I was learning about a place called "Franciscan University of Steubenville" through the writings and talks of Dr. Scott Hahn (a teacher at the university) and the then-Catholic Answers Radio talk show host Patrick Coffin (an alumni who often spoke fondly of the formation in the faith that he received at Franciscan). The work of both Dr. Hahn and Catholic Answers Live was huge in my conversion.

It was not until a few years later, a year after being received and confirmed into the Catholic Church, that I found myself in Steubenville for the first time on a "come and see" weekend with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. It was during this weekend that I began to hear about Fr. Michael Scanlan, who had been asked to take over the reins of the then-"party school" and agreed to do so only if he had free rein to make the changes he believed were needed. From what I hear, those early years were not easy at all for Fr. Mike, but through much prayer and begging divine assistance, he was slowly able to turn the University around, making it what it is known as today: a beacon of Christian fidelity and charity. That is what has drawn and continues to draw so many students to Franciscan and ultimately what drew the Marians to set up a house of formation here: so that Marian seminarians could study philosophy with a solid foundation on the fact that God is the fount of all wisdom and truth, and that to "love wisdom" (which is what the word "philosophy" means) is ultimately to love God.

My time at Franciscan, in a word, has been blessed. I attended a secular college when I was younger, and the difference between that experience and my present one is night and day. The students and faculty both have a tremendous love for Christ and His Church. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at Franciscan University as a postulant with the Marian Fathers, Fr. Mike had just finished his last year at Franciscan University. I would not get to meet the man for myself until about two years later, when his health began to decline and he was placed in a hospital. Some of my Marian brothers and I happily made the two hour drive to go out to visit him. He was quite lively, and we had a wonderful time spending just a few hours talking to him and praying with him. I vividly remember asking him to pray for a dear friend of mine. He clasped my hand, looked me in the eye, and said with a smile, "Let's pray now." So we did.

The second and last time I got to see him was literally two weeks ago. It was the day after Christmas. This, too, was a very blessed encounter, but different, insofar as his memory was much dimmed. I doubt he remembered me, but he was as kind and joyful as ever. It was amazing to see how his eyes would light up and a smile would arise at words like "Franciscan University," "Born in the Spirit retreat," "Households," and, of course, any mention of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We ended that last visit by asking Fr. Scanlan if we could pray over him. His face changed to that of a child who was just asked if he would like a present, and he replied with lucid excitement that he would indeed. It was a beautiful moment that I'll never forget, to have the privilege to pray with this man who has led countless people to a deeper union with God, to now be praying with him and for him with my hand on his shoulder.

Days later, I got the news that his health had taken a turn for the worse, and a week later, heard that he had passed on the morning of the first Saturday of 2017. I got the news right before a little 30 minute road trip I was taking out into the country for Mass. On my drive, the tears came as I was struck by how radically different my life would be if it had not been for this man's "yes" to God. By giving his whole life to God, Fr. Michael Scanlan was not only able to transform a tiny little party school into a slightly larger (but still tiny) faithful Catholic school; more importantly, he allowed God to work through him to transform the lives of countless souls. Without Fr. Michael Scanlan's "yes," I may have never heard of the Marian Fathers; I may have never entered the Catholic Church; and I would absolutely not have the wonderful people who make up my spiritual family in the Catholic Church. That's how powerful and effective one person giving their whole life to God can be, and I pray that you and I may have the courage to do the same.

RIP, dearest Fr. Scanlan. With much love and gratitude for your life, Godspeed.

Brother Christopher Orante, MIC
Father Mike, thank you for saying "yes" to God and always following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You were God's instrument in helping transform countless lives all over the world. Your life showed what God can do with one person's "yes," and I hope I can do the same. I'm so grateful to have visited you and prayed with you. Rest in peace.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

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Fr. David R. Lord, MIC - Feb 23, 2017

I am grateful to his memory! I remember with kind & passion Fr. Mike! I remember talk &visit with him!
God bless you, heaven above!!!

Jim Pickard - Jan 19, 2017

Although I never had the joy and honor of personally meeting Father Scanlon, we seemed to have been joined in many ways for many years.
I am a graduate of what was St. Francis Prep School, the original institution that gave birth to St. Francis College and Franciscan University.
My good friend and teacher at that time was the Provincial, Father John Sullivan, T.O.R. who I remember wrestling with the problem of what was then Steubenville College. This was in 1950.
Father John died suddenly in 1952 and his then secretary, Father Leo Ferriera T.O.R. became the vocations director. He visited with me many times in my home in Philadelphia and I will always remember the occasion when he was so excited about his recruitment of a young Air Force vet who was also a Harvard Law grad. Know we know the rest of the story and what Father Mike brought to the Order and the world. Thank you Lord for bringing him to all of us.