Father Flanagan founded the Boys Town orphanage in a downtown Omaha home in 1917.

An effort that began more than a decade ago to seek sainthood for the Rev. Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, has reached another milestone.

The Omaha Archdiocese has completed its investigation in the life, virtue and works of the Boys Town founder and Catholic priest. The local investigation included interviews with Boys Town alumni and others who knew Flanagan.

The results will be forwarded to the Vatican for further review, said Omar Gutierrez, an archdiocesan official who assisted the effort. A special Mass to celebrate the end of the local investigation is set for Thursday at St. Cecilia Cathedral with Omaha Archbishop George Lucas presiding.

At the end of the Mass, officials will sign and seal the investigation’s documents, which will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

“We’re excited about the progress and grateful that the archdiocese went through this investigation with vigor,’’ said Steve Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion, the group leading the canonization effort.

The archdiocese opened the formal effort in 2012 at the request of the group. The archdiocesan investigation was required to be neutral.

Gutierrez said the archdiocese cannot reveal the results of the local investigation into Flanagan, but said officials did not find “anything that would be an obstacle” to sainthood.

If the Vatican approves the local findings, Flanagan would be declared venerable. The next steps would be beatification and canonization. Canonization can take years. Part of the canonization process involves showing that Flanagan is responsible for two miracles such as healings that occur after prayers seeking his intercession.

In March 2012, Flanagan was officially named “Servant of God” at a special Mass on the Boys Town campus. Conferring that title was a step in the process for sainthood.

Flanagan was born in Ireland and founded Boys Town in 1917 in a rundown Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha. It moved to its current location four years later. Flanagan died in 1948.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1122, michael.oconnor@owh.com

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