A Tribute to Fr. Michael Scanlan – The Lord’s Magnificent Servant from Headmaster Dr. Robin Mitchell01 11, 2017
Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.
Trinity Academy Advisory Board Member Emeritus
Died: January 7th, 2017 – Requiescat in Pace.
A Tribute to Fr. Michael Scanlan – The Lord’s Magnificent Servant from Headmaster Dr. Robin Mitchell
At Assembly this Monday we honored the distinguished life of Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., who died on Saturday, January 7th, 2017, at the age of 84. He was a great man and a great friend of Trinity Academy, and we ask all to pray fervently for the repose of his soul.
Fr. Scanlan generously served on the Advisory Board of Trinity Academy for many years, and was the Keynote Speaker at two of our Annual Fall Dinner Events. He had intimate links with Trinity Academy through his nephew, Trinity parent Timothy Scanlan. His grand-niece Thérèse and his grand-nephew Martin currently attend our school, and his grand-nephew Nicholas graduated in 2010, and subsequently attended Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Fr. Michael Scanlan served as President of the Franciscan University of Steubenville for 26 years and as Chancellor for 11 years. He was a major figure in Catholic education during the last quarter of the Twentieth Century and exerted a transformative influence over Catholic universities and colleges throughout America and throughout the world. He touched the lives of millions through the evangelical conferences of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and through his weekly broadcasts on the EWTN television network.
Trinity students and parents who graduated from or currently attend Franciscan University of Steubenville include:
Mrs. Tori Moen
Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell
Mr. and Mrs. Warner
Mr. and Mrs. Pandl
Fr. Michael is truly a GIANT in the development of Catholic higher education. He serves for us as a model for what can be achieved by saying Yes to the call God places on our lives. He graduated from prestigious Williams College and from Harvard University Law School with outstanding credentials and stood poised for a sparkling career in the world of business, but he recounts in his autobiography, Let the Fire Fall, that he was not at peace within himself and wanted to know with more certainty what God wanted for his life. He recalls how he spoke to God, saying that he would go out into the woods and pray, and that he would not come out of the woods until he knew God’s will for his life. God did speak – calling Fr. Michael to the priesthood – and Fr. Michael responded with willing obedience, entering upon a life which touched millions with the Word of God.
He joined the Franciscans, and in 1975 he was appointed President of the struggling College of Steubenville. Fr. Scanlan accepted the position with one condition: that he could be given complete freedom to re-vitalize the campus according to his own insights.
Those insights let to a campus totally loyal to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church with an Oath of Fidelity taken by all faculty, a curriculum with strong majors in theology and catechetics, and a social life for students organized around “households” – groupings of students for mutual support, shared prayer lives, and daily social interaction which would replace the aging fraternity/sorority model and eliminate the loneliness often experienced on college campuses.
The fruits have been spectacular! Currently 600 students at FUS are enrolled as theology or catechetics majors. More than 700 alumni have become bishops, priests, and religious brothers and sisters. Many of Trinity Academy’s own Franciscan University alumni now work in service to the Church, and are sharing their talents in the following ways: Therese Moen (parish Director of Religious Education and Founder of the TA High School), Nick Scanlan (Youth Minister and parish Music Assistant), Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell (Director of Development of Dean of High School Students, Trinity Academy), Tori Moen (Trinity parent and Founder of the TA High School), Anne Mitchell (Catechetical Advisor, Diocese of Madison), Maria Mitchell (Media Director, Ascension Press), Lindsey Josephson (student minister UW-Platteville, Dental Assistant), Mr. and Mrs. Warner (Trinity teacher and Trinity parents), Mr. and Mrs. Pandl (Trinity parents), Matthew Baudek (small business partner and Founder of the TA High School), Lisa Regner (professional social worker), Shannon Sommers (nurse and married to FUS alum), Taylor Schmitt, Logan Schmitt, Libby Thomas, MaryCeline Josephon (current FUS students). Our school chaplain, Fr. Don Schmidt, makes his annual priestly retreat at Franciscan University every summer.
In 1975 Fr. Scanlan held a summer Youth Conference on Franciscan University’s campus. This has grown until currently 55,000 high schoolers attend summer conferences in 16 states and Canada.
For 18 years Fr. Scanlan linked with the EWTN network of Mother Angelica to host a weekly discussion program, “Franciscan University Live,” which continues today to reach millions of Catholics eager for information on current Church issues.
Truly in Fr. Michael Scanlan we see an outstanding example of the way in which a Yes to God’s call can be multiplied many thousand-fold. The faith and enthusiasm of this one man has transformed countless lives and left a permanent mark on Catholic higher education. He asked God what he should do, and he did it.
When Fr. Scanlan came to Trinity as our guest speaker, I concluded my introductory remarks by saying that one day God would meet him face to face and say “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” I think that this moment came for Fr. Michael last Saturday, and I am certain that those words are exactly what God said to His magnificent servant.