Neb. founder Boys Town orphanage up for sainthood
This photo from 1942 which was provided by Boys Town, shows Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan, center, being surrounded by his charges. Omaha Archbishop George Lucas has opened, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, the cause for the beatification and canonization of Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan.(AP Photo/Boys Town)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — 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 Rev. 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 U.S."
This undated photo provided by Boys Town shows Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan. Omaha Archbishop George Lucas has opened, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, the cause for the beatification and canonization of Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan.(AP Photo/Boys Town)
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 center for troubled area youth while running campuses and programs for thousands of other boys and girls across the country. The organization also operates an Omaha research hospital and a national resource and training center, and it has 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.