Boys Town founder up for sainthood

2012-02-28 14:00
A Boys Town student holds a portrait of founder Father Edward Flanagan outside St Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, where the archbishop has opened the cause for his beatification. (Nati Harnik, AP)

A Boys Town student holds a portrait of founder Father Edward Flanagan outside St Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, where the archbishop has opened the cause for his beatification. (Nati Harnik, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

  • Religion
    Be an eyewitness to various religions and learn about the wheel of existance, Christ's Crucifixion... Now R77.00
    buy now

Omaha - A Roman Catholic priest whose efforts to help troubled Omaha youth were made famous by Spencer Tracy's Academy Award-winning portrayal of him in the 1938 movie Boys Town has been nominated for sainthood.

Archbishop George Lucas posted an announcement on the doors of St Cecilia Cathedral on Monday saying the Omaha Archdiocese had begun the process of seeking sainthood for the Reverend Edward Flanagan.

"We are humbled and overjoyed," said Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League, which has long sought sainthood for Flanagan.

"We see this as a response to the Holy Spirit that is moving through an international groundswell of devotion that, as best we can measure at this time, includes devotion to Father Flanagan by the faithful in nine countries and 36 states here in the US."

The Irish-born Flanagan, who died of a heart attack in 1948 at age 61 while visiting Germany, founded the Boys Town orphanage in a downtown Omaha home in 1917.

Boys Town moved to its current west Omaha location several years later, and today serves as a centre for troubled area youth while running campuses and programmes for thousands of other boys and girls across the country.

Servant of God

The organisation also operates an Omaha research hospital and a national resource and training centre, and it has a publishing arm, Boys Town Press.

Lucas said the archdiocese will open a cause for sainthood on March 17, which is St Patrick's Day, at Flanagan's gravesite on the Boys Town grounds. On that day, Flanagan will be named a "servant of God" and a group of tribunal members will be assembled to review Flanagan's life work.

According to US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the church then requires three more steps for a candidate to become a saint: Veneration, beatification and canonisation.

In the first step, the title of "venerable" is given to someone who has died and been recognised by the pope as having lived heroic virtues. To be beatified, one miracle must be attributed to the candidate. Canonisation requires a second miracle, although the pope may waive some of these requirements.

The Father Flanagan League has gathered testimony from six people in its quest to prove to the Vatican that Flanagan is responsible for several miracles, all involving the curing of illnesses.

Among those who testified is a woman from Italy who says she was cured of what should have been a fatal brain aneurysm after praying for Flanagan's help, Wolf said. Another woman from Omaha says prayers to Flanagan cured her of advanced breast cancer.

Long road to sainthood

Wolf noted that the six cases are yet to be proven with medical documentation, but the group hopes the Vatican will find miracles took place in at least two of the cases.

What is certain is that the road to sainthood will be a long one.

"Usually, it's a pretty slow process," the Reverend Thomas J Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Centre at Georgetown University, said of attaining sainthood. "Except for some recent ones like Mother Teresa and John Paul II, we're talking 20 years before some of these people get through the process.


Read more on:    us  |  religion

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.