Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: "Priest of Fire"
How Fr. Mike's Ministry Touched My Life
It seems like God is bringing His people home before the "final harvest".....Fr. Gabriel Amorth, Mother Angelica, so many of our friends and loved ones, and now the beloved Fr. Michael Scanlan. He was the well-beloved Franciscan friar whom God used to change the former "College of Steubenville" into the Franciscan University of Steubenville, my alma mater.
I can't remember the first time I met Fr. Mike. I had heard about him...but, his preaching always touched me. His words were on fire- from the heart. I also remember he prayed the Mass in a unique way. Before the confiteor, he used to say something like, "let us come to the mercy of God, and repent where necessary." This ministered to me, because, as a baby Christian, I was still very scrupulous- more focused on all the sins I thought I was committing, and less on God's love and grace for me.
When I was in my second year, I was reading Fr. Michael's book, Let the Fire Fall, in the perpetual adoration chapel. The part that stuck with me was where he was talking about Scripture- the importance of God's Word. He said that, unfortunately, many modern seminaries are teaching the Bible as history, in a scientific manner. This is what has come to be known as the historical-critical method. While this method surely has its place, it is not biblical theology, he said, which is far more important. He emphasized the need for Catholics to return to reading and preaching the Bible as spiritual nourishment, emphasizing more what God is saying to YOU as the personal believer, and the personal transformation that happens when we encounter the Word of God, and less the historical circumstances of biblical authors.
When I became a Franciscan for a time, I had the privilege of seeing Fr. Mike quite often. In fact, the year I graduated from Steubenville was the year he retired and moved to Loretto, PA, where the Franciscan TORs have their motherhouse, which also serves as an infirmary. Fr. Mike was getting pretty sick...that was why he had to move from his beloved Steubenville, from which he was (and is still) sorely missed. But we, the young generation of friars, were blessed to sit at the feet of one of God's generals, and leaders in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. How fitting it is that Fr. Michael passed during the Golden Jubilee (or 50 year anniversary) of this movement. May he rest in peace.
One of the things he said to me will always stay with me. As a budding praise and worship leader, I was eager to learn from one of the world's finest worship leaders and teachers. What a gifted man he was! I asked him if he had any advice for me. He kind of leaned in from his wheelchair, and in his raspy New England accent, he said, "keep one eye on the people, and one eye on the Lord. Watch what God is doing among the people, and get in touch with that. That's all I ever did." This principle of discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit during worship has helped me greatly.
ONE LAST STORY: I also had the honor of witnessing a miracle healing through Fr. Michael's ministry before my very eyes. This was also during my novitiate year. There was some kind of gathering of the Secular Franciscans in our area, and Fr. Mike and the rest of the retired friars were present. One of the Secular Franciscan men and I had gotten to talking over lunch and he mentioned to me his burning desire to grow in Christ....and that he also had one deaf ear. I said to him, "why don't we ask Fr. Mike if he will bless your ear?" Fr. Michael prayed over his ears, and the man was miraculously, instantly healed- he was ecstatic. Soon, there was a long line of people gathering for prayer from Fr. Mike, who eventually motioned to me, and, since he was getting tired, said, "get me outta here!" I wheeled him to his room, and that was that.
I am very grateful for the legacy of Fr. Michael Scanlan, and the way the Lord touched my life through him. There are thousands of miracles, healings, deliverances....so many testimonies from the life of one of God's great champions. At we Heart Two Heart Ministries, we honor him, and we seek his intercession, as we seek to continue on in his spirit, bringing reformation and revival in the Catholic Church and beyond.
-by a Friend of Heart Two Heart