Father Flanagan, the Founder of Boys Town, Is One Step Closer to Sainthood

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OMAHA—Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, is one step closer to becoming a canonized saint.

The Postito, a summary of the volume of records on Father Flanagan’s life, was presented to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints this week.

Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha sent a letter of support for Father Flanagan’s cause.

“It has been a privilege to offer my support for the cause of Father Edward Flanagan at each stage of this process,” Archbishop Lucas said in an interview. “I was able to share with Cardinal Becciu the encouragement offered to all of us in the Church during this challenging time by the virtuous life and work of Father Flanagan.”

Edward Joseph Flanagan was born on July 13, 1886 in Ireland. He came to America in 1904, where he studied as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of New York at Dunwoodie Seminary in Yonkers.

After contracting double pneumonia, Edward moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to live and recover with his brother, Father Patrick Flanagan. After his recovery, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1912.

As a priest, Father Flanagan ministered to seasonal workers who were stranded in Omaha without work due to a drought.

He sheltered over a thousand homeless and jobless men in what he called “The Workingmen’s Hotel,” which was a re-purposed boarding house.

After studying the juvenile justice system, Father Flanagan began ministering to boys in the juvenile court system. With the permission of Omaha Diocesan Bishop Jeremiah Harty, he founded his first home for boys in 1917.

On May 18, 1921, he received the deed to Overlook Farm, built five buildings for the boys, and moved them into their new home. Today, Overlook Farm is now the incorporated Village of Boys Town.

Boys Town went on to help at least 10,000 boys during Father Flanagan’s lifetime.

“The work will continue, you see, whether I am there or not, because it is God’s work, not mine,” Father Flanagan once said.

The Archdiocese of Omaha opened the cause for Father Flanagan’s canonization in 2012, and the first phase of the process was completed in June 2015.

If Father Flanagan’s case is approved by the historical consultants of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, it will need to be approved by theological consultants. Then, the bishops and cardinals who are members of the Congregation would be asked for their seal of approval.

After these stages, the Congregation would recommend Father Flanagan to Pope Francis, who could then declare him venerable.

To find out more about the life of Father Flanagan, visit the website for the cause of his canonization.

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