Fr. Michael Scanlan OSF–Man on a Mission

Fr. Michael Scanlan’s continuing legacy

April 10, 2014

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.

Jesus King of All Nations

Jesus King of All Nations

Jesus appeared to a young American woman on December 17, 1988 as the King of All Nations. He said, “This image is to be a sign that I rule Heaven and earth, and My Kingdom, My Reign, is near at hand. . . . I give this image to mankind as a source of graces and of peace. My Most Holy Mother is preparing the great triumph. The triumph of her Immaculate Heart ushers in the Reign of My Love and Mercy. . . .  I have come to entrust to you a message of great importance for the world. I tell you, My very little one, the days are coming when mankind will cry out to Me for mercy. I tell you, My child, that in these times only one thing will be given as a remedy. I Myself AM that remedy!!! Let souls give devotion to Me, through My Most Holy Mother, as ‘Jesus, King of All Nations’. ” (Journal 7, 14, 159-160).

Threat to Charitable Mission of the Church

It’s Friday in the first week of Lent, a time for prayer, fasting and alms-giving. It is also a time for reflection.

Alexis de Tocqueville:

“I do not know whether all [American citizens] have faith in their religions—for who can read the bottom of men’s hearts? But I am certain that they believe religion to be necessary for the preservation of republican institutions. This is not the opinion of one class of citizens or one party but of the nation as a whole. One encounters it among people of every rank.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writing in First Things , “A Charitable Endeavor” shares some new and disturbing experiences and observations of “a new and belligerent kind of secularism” which flies in the face of American cultural tradition.

Historically, Americans have been—and remain—a religious people. They have found it quite normal for religious charities, including Catholic ones, to make use of public monies in serving the poor, the homeless, and other needy populations. This arrangement has worked well for everybody. Government gets skilled, cost-effective, and compassionate help in meeting social needs. The Church gets funds for her works of love demanded by faith in Jesus Christ.

But Americans have always known that the Church’s charitable purposes are religiously inspired, not merely humanitarian. They’ve also understood that the Church is an independent partner in helping the government to meet its charitable goals. She is not an arm of the government. She is not a private contractor on the state payroll. The tax exemptions offered by the state to religious charities to help their work are not a gift or a display of kindness by civil authority. They are nakedly practical. Religious charities typically do better social-service work than government agencies and at lower cost.

Chaput notes in an interview with Dr.R.R.Reno of Spirit Catholic Radio out of Omaha Nebraska, that in the tradition of our country the has been a friendly cooperation between Church and State in matters of charitable works and giving. This “new hostility toward religious identity is a symptom of bigotry on the part of secularists (who) want to keep us from being who we are, if were going to share the work of the State.”

The United States is an historical oddity. Unlike the nations of modern Europe, America was not founded on the basis of territorial, cultural, ethnic, or confessional concerns. America is what the Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray called “a proposition country,” built on a set of moral claims about God, the human person, the meaning of life, and the purpose of society. These propositions, in turn, emerged from the Judeo–Christian values and vocabulary of America’s first settlers and founders.

America’s founding documents are thus a mix of commonsense realism and transcendent idealism. God is named as “Creator” and “Supreme Judge” over individuals and governments. The human person is said to be endowed with God-given, and therefore inalienable, rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The purpose of government is clearly defined and sharply limited: to help secure and defend these basic rights for its citizens.

The American proposition envisions the self-rule of a free people living under a limited government. Civil authority governs with the people’s consent and in accord with the natural law and natural rights established by “Nature’s God.” The people’s freedom is not a moral license. Rather, it is the liberty and duty to pursue the good. The American ideal resembles Lord Acton’s famous definition of freedom: “not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”

Chaput describes the intrusions he experiences in his ministry as Archbishop of Denver, CO. State law-makers have given difficulty to the Church in such areas as adoption, on the issue of the meaning of marriage and legislatures have tried to tailor legislation to dictate the hiring protocol of leaders to such organizations as Catholic Charities and other like organizations.

Consider two recent cases. The first comes from direct pastoral experience. Recently, the Colorado state assembly proposed a bill that would have forced every charitable group receiving state money to comply with a set of “antidiscrimination” laws. That may sound harmless. It may even seem reasonable. But in practice the law would have stripped the Church of any control over the people she hires. Because the proposed law banned “discrimination” on the basis of religion, the Church could easily have been forced to hire non-Catholics or people who publicly reject Catholic teaching—even for key leadership positions.

The implications for Catholics were obvious. The right to define our mission as a Church and to select the people who can best transmit Catholic beliefs and values is at the heart of our religious freedom. No Catholic ministry can ensure its identity if its leaders and staffers cannot be required to be Catholic. Colorado Catholics argued this case forcefully in the state legislature, and the bill was tabled. It never came to a vote. But the issue is by no means dead. And this bad legislation reflected a trend we now see elsewhere. Public officials increasingly push social agendas hostile to religious faith, even at the cost of denying rights historically guaranteed to religious groups.

Here’s a second case. In Boston, the local archdiocese ran one of the nation’s oldest, most respected adoption agencies. Nonetheless, the Church was forced to shut down her adoption ministry. Why? Because the state demanded that the Church begin placing orphans for adoption with homosexual couples—a demand that violates Catholic moral beliefs that children have the right to grow up in a stable family with a married mother and father. Boston’s archbishop, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, sought a conscience clause to exempt the Church from the requirement. State lawmakers refused. The result was the end of more than a century of excellent child-adoption services to the general public.

This case embodied the “grave inconsistency” that Benedict XVI writes about in his encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. A small social subgroup—for example, active homosexuals and supporters of homosexual-related issues—demands that the government defend their right to a controversial lifestyle, a right that is “alleged, . . . arbitrary, and nonessential in nature,” as Benedict puts it. To meet this demand and promote this ambiguous right, public officials attack the “elementary and basic rights” of defenseless children without parents.

Archbishop Chaput poignantly points out

“Government cannot love. It has no soul and no heart. The greatest danger of the modern secularist state is this: In the name of humanity, under the banner of serving human needs and easing human suffering, it ultimately, ironically—and too often tragically— lacks humanity. As Benedict foresees in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est:”

The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a state that regulates and controls everything, but a state that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: She is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something that often is even more necessary than material support.”

Finally Chaput states that it really is a small group of people relentlessly pursuing these changes and the Archbishop laments that we in the Church have allowed the marketplace to be taken by these forces. We need to harness the same energy for doing good and building society in response to Christ as they for a God-free society.

In the face of modern critics who would crowd out the Church’s ministry of love, American Catholics must reclaim the vision Benedict speaks of here. We need to insist on the guarantees promised by the founders at the beginning of the American proposition: autonomy and noninterference from civil authorities.

But a more important task also remains. Catholics must come to a new zeal for that proposition, a new faithfulness to their own Catholic identity as they live their citizenship, and a new dedication to renewing the great public philosophy implicit in America’s founding documents.

Lent "Forgiving the Living"

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

“Remember, O man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return”

A Lenten reflection on “Forgiving the Living” a phrase used by Immaculee Ilibagiza in her own story:

Left To Tell, Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Most of us struggle to forgive, finding it difficult to put aside our bumps and bruises.  We savor our wounds as though they give us pleasure. We are a strange lot.

Imagine, if you can, living with the memory of genocide.  Not a genocide across the world from you, but surrounding you; a genocide that includes your mother and father, your brothers, friends and all your neighbors in one way or another.  Imagine a genocide you can smell and touch and that touches you, that calls your name, hunts you and haunts you.

For thousands in the world today, that is the reality.  For one particular soul, Immaculee Ilabigiza, the author of  Left to Tell, this reality has sprouted wings.  She flies high above her small village in Rwanda living forgiveness, not as a half-hearted effort, but as a mission.  A dream, that she believes was given her by God, opened her heart to the world.  Her touch is one of grace and healing.  Immaculee was left behind to let us know that in order to truly be alive to Life, we can and must forgive by the living grace of God.

Lenten alms and charity