Interview with Michael Scianna

Patrick Murphy: Hello everyone.  This is Patrick Murphy with the Augustinians in Chicago.  I today am interviewing Michael Scianna who is the father of our Prior Provincial, Father Bernie Scianna.  Mike, it's a pleasure to have you with us today.

Michael Scianna: Thank you.

Murphy: I thought it would be good to get a good perspective on the father of the Father, so I wanted to ask a few questions of you.  The first one would be, how did you first come to know the Augustinians?

Scianna: Having five sons that attended and graduated from St. Rita, my wife and I got acquainted with many Augustinians.  Our sons were quite involved and active in the band and so were we as I was president of the band boosters and my wife was a member.  I was a member of the Fathers' Club and she was a member of the Mothers' Club.

Murphy: Oh, okay, a lot of St. Rita ties.  St. Rita's a fine school.

Scianna: Absolutely.

Murphy: Since you're the father of Prior Provincial Father Bernie Scianna, did you ever expect that sending him to St. Rita High School would have led him to where he is today?

Scianna: Well, we always knew that Father Bernie would be a great influence at whatever he was going to do.  He had known before high school that he wanted to be a priest.  The Augustinians at St. Rita helped him to become the priest and leader he is today.

Murphy: All right, all right.  Are there any particular Augustinians that impacted your life?

Scianna: Well, there are many of them that have impacted our lives by the influence that they have had on our sons' lives.  They are Father Pat Murphy, Father David Brecht, Father Sullivan, Father Tack, Brother Jerome, Brother Joe Fisher, Brother Larry and Brother Jack.

Murphy: Those are a lot of great guys.  I haven't met all of them but...

Scianna: Oh, yes.

Murphy: Most of them are really great.  I have to say that doing interviews with some of the other guys, a lot of those names come up quite a lot actually.

Scianna: They were quite involved and very [hospitable] to them.

Murphy: Yeah.  You have experience with sending your children to an  Augustinian high school.  You know many of the Augustinians that have impacted your life directly.  What would you say the role is of the Augustinian today, the Augustinian Order?

Scianna: The Augustinians today, the role, is to continue educating young men and women with the high standards that they have set and instilling in them the Augustinian moral values of unity, truth, and love.  The education and teaching is needed more now than ever before in this society.  The influence of social media has become more temptation to lead an immoral and sinful life with disregard to others' lives.

Murphy: Yeah.  I would whole-heartily agree.  I hear a lot of reports about the Mass attendance declining and the increased secularism in today's society.

Scianna: Right.

Murphy: A few people have begun to question the relevance of the Church, but I think you hit it right on the head by saying it's more relevant today, now than ever.  You can have some...

Scianna: Absolutely.

Murphy: You can have people that are just wiling to shut the doors and say, "That's it," or you can have people and say, "No, this is one of the challenges that we've been assigned to in our lifetime," and I would say that the Augustinians are standing up to that challenge.  Me, personally.

Scianna: For sure.  For sure.

Murphy: The Continuing Our Journey of Faith campaign is a capital campaign for the Augustinians and it's really about securing the longevity of the Order so that way we can continue to have that impact.  Why are you, because you're helping with the campaign, why are you helping with the Continuing Our Journey of Faith campaign for the Augustinians?

Scianna: We strongly believe in the mission of the Augustinians.  We  have seen the role the Augustinians have played in forming the lives of our sons and of many sons and daughters of acquaintances that we have made throughout the year, years actually.  Our first graduate was class of '81 and the last one was class of '94, so many years have spanned it.

Murphy: Would I be correct in saying it's a bit of "thank you" for you?

Scianna: Yes. 

Murphy: Thank you for the Augustinians?

Scianna: Absolutely.

Murphy: I've heard that a lot.  I've heard a lot of people are very grateful for what the Augustinians have done for them, not only in their lives but also in their children's lives and probably in their children's children's lives and their great grandkids.

Scianna: Right down the line.  I have a grandson that's at St. Rita now so...

Murphy: Oh, yeah?  

Scianna: Right. 

Murphy: Is he going to be a Prior Provincial himself one day?

Scianna: Pardon?

Murphy: Is he going to be a Prior Provincial himself one day?

Scianna: I'm not really sure at this point.  It would be great but he is doing very well.

Murphy: That's good to hear, that's good to hear.  Why should others, other people that send their kids to St. Rita or have attended St. Rita themselves or another Augustinian high school or a parishioner in an Augustinian parish or friends of the Augustinians, the list goes on.  Why should others go the extra mile to make a special gift to the capital campaign?

Scianna: This campaign is really important at this time.  The mission of the Augustinians must be able to go forward and continue to touch many lives.  The recruitment of young men interested in the Augustinians flourished in the past years and there are more young men studying to become Augustinians now than there has been for many years.

Also, we must take care of the many Augustinians that have devoted their lives to educate and serve.  Plus we want to support the missions in Peru and the Augustinians that devote their lives to help those in need, that need the simple things in life such as food, shelter, and medical aid.  This campaign is a great opportunity to give back for what the Augustinians have given to you.

Murphy: That's spoken very, very well.  Very nicely put.

Scianna: It comes from the heart so ...

Murphy: You know then that you couldn't say it any better if it came from the heart.  You really hit on it, it's about vocations, caring for the retired men and in a way, you are right that this campaign even though it specifically raises money for vocations and retirement, in a big way it helps support our missions in Peru too.

Scianna: Right.

Murphy: Many of our missionaries that have served there, some of them have come up here to retire.  What if we attract a vocation of the Order that wants to do missionary work, too?

Scianna: Right.  They have to have great care, which they're getting but it needs to be supported so that it can keep going.

Murphy: Right.  It's all one mission.  It's all one mission all together.

Scianna: Right.

Murphy: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.  I hope people enjoy listening to the interview.  I always enjoy speaking with you.

Scianna: That's great.

Murphy: Thank you again for... and anybody listening, if you want more information on the campaign, of course there's more information here on   Feel free to contact me.  You can call me 773-595-4007 or the Campaign Director, Michael Gerrity at 773-595-4035.  Thank you again and I hope you have a blessed day.

Scianna: Okay.  Thanks a lot for calling then.  Take care.

Murphy: Take care.  Bye-bye.

Posted on November 18, 2014 and filed under Michael Scianna.