Father Scanlan, college and church leader, dies at age 85

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO — Franciscan Father Michael Scanlan, whose name is almost synonymous with the Franciscan University of Steubenville, died Jan. 7 at Garvey Manor, a Catholic nursing home in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, after a long illness. He was 85.

The priest transformed the struggling College of Steubenville — now known as the Franciscan University of Steubenville — in the 1970s. He was its longtime president — from 1974 to 2000 — and then chancellor at the university from 2000 to 2011 when he retired. The school became a university in 1980 and changed its name in 1986.

Father Scanlan, whose 1997 autobiography was titled “Let the Fire Fall,” was described by the provincial of his order, Franciscan Father Richard Davis, as “one of the most obedient, charitable, humble, and very holy men in our community.”

“The good he has done for the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the order, and most importantly, for the entire church is a tremendous source of honor. I thank God he was my brother, my mentor, and my friend,” he said in a statement.

A champion in the pro-life movement, Father Scanlan established President’s Day in January so students could attend the national March for Life in Washington without missing classes. In 1989, he was jailed after participating in a peaceful protest outside a Youngstown, Ohio, abortion clinic.