Father Michael Scanlan to Receive Poverello Medal Posthumously

Acknowledging those who have emulated the qualities of St. Francis of Assisi, the award is given in recognition of Christian character, charity.

Father Michael Scanlan
Father Michael Scanlan (photo: Franciscan University of Steubenville)

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Father Michael Scanlan, a a Third Order Regular Franciscan and former president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, will posthumously receive the 2018 “Poverello Medal,” the college’s highest non-academic award.

The medal will be given in recognition of the achievements of Father Scanlan, who helped rejuvenate the school’s Catholic spirit and advanced evangelization worldwide.

“Very few college presidents could not only reinvigorate Catholic higher education … but also be an evangelist, a writer [and] a Catholic media figure,” Tom Sofio, public relations manager for Franciscan, told CNA.

The award will be accepted by Father Richard Davis in memory of the school’s fourth president, who died in January 2017. The event will be held March 3, coinciding with school’s “Mission Immersion Day,” a preparation for the nearly 300 students who plan to leave on mission trips this spring.

Acknowledging individuals and organizations who have emulated the qualities of St. Francis of Assisi, the award is given in recognition of substantial Christian character and works of charity.

Father Michael Scanlan served as the school’s president from 1974 to 2000 and aided the restoration of the university’s Catholic identity. He emphasized the school’s theology program, making it the largest undergraduate theology program of any U.S. Catholic university.

Having a good rapport with the students, he also created an environment for young adults to grow in their faith. He established faith-based fraternity and sorority-like groups called “households,” where men and women would be formed and supported in their Catholic faith.

Under Father Scanlan, Franciscan University in 1989 became the first U.S. Catholic university or college to adopt an “Oath of Fidelity,” a promise from the priests and theology faculty to teach according to the Church.

Additionally, Father Scanlan was a strong supporter of the pro-life movement and the Charismatic Renewal, speaking at international conferences like the Franciscan Conferences, which now serves more than 55,000 high-school students, and Fire Rallies (for “Faith, Intercession, Repentance and Evangelization”), which have reached 400,000-plus people.

Father Scanlan also wrote 16 books and spiritual pamphlets and was one of the first priests to get involved with EWTN, hosting the theology series Franciscan University Presents for 18 years.

“He could help rebuild a Catholic university and spearhead the move to Catholic higher education, and be preaching in front of large groups of people, leading pilgrimages, and writing books about the faith,” Sofio added.

“It was amazing how he could do all those and move from one to other so effortlessly. The Holy Spirit gave him a lot of energy, and he used it well.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy