BY JOANNE KERSTEN
In the history of Franciscan University, many will agree that the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR, made a huge impact.
“He was so pastoral, so fatherly,” Chrissy Casazza of Madonna of the Streets said of their past household advisor. “He is so funny and sweet and humble still to this day.”
Scanlan is currently at the Sacred Heart Province motherhouse in Loretto, Penn. The Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, said he has been told that Scanlan’s spirits are high and he is being taken good care of.
Concerning Scanlan’s overall health condition now, Casazza said that he looks healthy but has recently become sicker. He remembers the big things, but not the smaller details, she continued.
“He is still fully himself and the faith is still fully in him,” Casazza said.
Henry said, “I pray for him in his declining health.”
In the spring of 2013, members of Madonna of the Streets household were treated to a surprise visit with their first advisor.
“His face lit up when we saw him,” remembers Amy Alexander, a member of Madonna of the Streets. She said that they were able to sit and talk with him and listen to different stories about their household when he was their advisor.
“He was, through Christ, a father. He mastered the gift of the priesthood,” said Casazza. She also gave special attention to noting how he shaped Franciscan and was a “living pillar in the Franciscan community.”
Henry also remembered his pastoral side.
“My favorite memories of him are a pastor to the student body,” Henry said. He also mentioned that although his health would not always allow Scanlan to travel, he could stay on campus and serve the students.
Along with being a father to the campus, Scanlan also showed strong determination through his work at the university. Henry said that Scanlan swam “against the academic tide,” noting how much of Catholic higher education was not following the Church.
The transformation that Scanlan was able to put into motion didn’t happen overnight. Henry said that Scanlan’s vision was a university that was with the Church, and united reason and faith.
“It was a simple vision, but it was very difficult,” Henry said.
“The fruit of his work we can see in the graduates,” Henry continued. “He realized what needed to be done could not be done only in the classroom. … He didn’t let his vision get watered down or compromised.”
When asked what Scanlan would say about Franciscan University today, Henry said, “He would say that the adventure is continuing.” Henry remembered how Scanlan placed Franciscan in the hands of the Lord and his providence, and how it is still being guided and still asking how it can serve the Church.
Alexander said, “Never forget what he has done for this university, and all the lives he touched through his ministry.”
Casazza agreed, “We would not have Franciscan without him.”
Due to deadline constraints, The Troubadour was not able to get in contact with Scanlan for an interview before going to print.