Even though I grew up in Steubenville and visited Franciscan frequently, I don’t have any vivid memories of Father Michael Scanlan. But he was always there, usually as one of the many priests at the altar during mass at Christ the King or in the Field House for Household Life. However, this distant man had a huge impact on my life. In fact, one might say I owe it to him.
Like many others, my parents met at Franciscan. However, neither of them would have come if Father Michael had not revived the struggling school. My siblings and I, as well as thousands of other Franciscan babies, would not be here today. His simple act of following the Spirit, or as Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, said during the memorial mass this Wednesday, “turning water into wine,” ensured that young men and women Iike my parents, aunts and uncles, my siblings and myself, had a solid Catholic education. This has launched a new chapter of the Catholic Church in America, and one that is spreading across the world.
When I think of Franciscan, I think of Father Michael. His gentle influence, even if only spread through stories, spoke to me of the Franciscan way of life: living as Christ in all that you do.
I went to the wake held at Franciscan this past Tuesday. Father Michael was a not a big man, but that had no effect on the many people people asking to have their rosaries touched to his hand. They are convinced he is a saint, and I have to say I agree.