- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha announced Monday that it has completed its investigation into the life and virtue of the Rev. Edward Flanagan, another step in efforts to have sainthood declared for the founder of Boys Town.

Flanagan, who was depicted in the Academy Award-winning 1938 movie “Boys Town,” was named a “servant of God” more than three years ago by Omaha Archbishop George Lucas. A diocesan tribunal then officially began what was required to be a neutral examination of Flanagan. That review will officially end Thursday with a Mass of celebration and a public declaration of the closing.

Omar Gutierrez, Lucas’ assistant, would not say Monday what the diocesan investigation concluded, but did say, “the fact that we are having a celebration suggests that we didn’t find anything to bar him.”

Flanagan 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 serves as a center for troubled youth in the area while running campuses and programs for thousands of other boys and girls across the country. Flanagan died of a heart attack in 1948 at age 61 while visiting Germany.

The next step in the sainthood effort is submitting the findings to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, a Vatican entity, Gutierrez said. If approved, Flanagan would be named “venerable.”

Then, the next two Vatican-approved declarations for someone on the path toward sainthood would be beatification and canonization. Two miracles must be attributed to a candidate for sainthood, Gutierrez said, including one that must be verified as occurring after he or she was beatified.

The Omaha-based Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion is behind the sainthood effort and already has collected testimony from people who said Flanagan was responsible for miracles involving the curing of illnesses.

Gutierrez couldn’t say how long the remaining process could take, citing the volume of work at the Vatican.

“It could take a year. It could take 10 years,” he said.

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