Boys Town founder Fr Flanagan’s cause goes to Rome

The cause for the sainthood of Fr Edward Flanagan, the priest who founded Boys Town, is heading for Rome.

The Omaha Archdiocese in Nebraska closed the diocesan phase of the investigation with a June 18 Mass at St Cecilia’s Cathedral.

The notary for the diocesan tribunal investigating the cause said he was struck by stories from former Boys Town residents who knew Fr Flanagan.

“I have had World War II veterans weep in front of me as they recall what Fr Flanagan did for them when they were just boys,” said Omar Gutierrez.

Fr Flanagan helped at least 10,000 boys at Boys Town in his lifetime, and his influence extended around the world.

The priest’s work inspired 80 other Boys Towns around the world.

The original Boys Town now serves about 80,000 children and families each year.

Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion and vice-postulator of his cause, said he thinks there is abundant evidence of the priest’s heroic virtue.

“He completely poured his life into saving these kids nobody else wanted to deal with,” Mr Wolf said.

Fr Flanagan integrated young boys, “built a society around them, and put love, God’s love, in the middle of their circumstances and helped them to become whole and complete people”.

After World War II, the priest helped care for orphans and displaced children in war-ravaged Japan, Germany and Austria, at the request of US President Harry Truman.

Mr Wolf noted that the priest broke with the segregationist practices of his time, serving all boys, regardless of their race and religion.

Fr Flanagan’s response to racist criticism was to ask what colour a person’s soul was.

Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his portrayal of Fr Flanagan in the 1938 movie Boys Town.


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