He Isn’t Heavy He My Brother, Reflection by Father Stefan on the Diocese of Omaha opening up the cause for saint for Father Flanagan

He Isn’t Heavy He my Brother

Great news the Omaha archdiocese opened up cause for sainthood of Father Edward Flanagan.

I first learned about father Flanigan and Boy’s Town the first summer that I was in the seminary. I was assigned to work there the summer of 93. I even remember the drive. We were going to drive from Washington D.C, to Omaha Nebraska in a single day. I remember it took us 22 hours.  I went with Terry Staples, who is now Father Terry Staples.

Terry picked me up and we were going to drive to Omaha. He asked me if I could drive a stick and I said no. His car was on its last leg. His car could not go fast, tops 55mph. I remember getting to Iowa and thinking, “Wow only one state away.” Iowa is a big state especially after you have been driving already for 17 hours.

That summer was a great summer. I was assigned to work in the pigpen with the new boys who were sent from the court. Yes this city boy, who never spent a night on farm, was in charge of getting seven young men, to clean the pigpen.

I would come home covered in dirt and did I give off a scent.

Getting these boys to clean the pigpen was very challenging.  In fact about a month into the summer I went to Father Peter, he was the administrator of Boy’s Town at the time, and said, “I quit.” Father Peter gave me some great advice, “ I will not let you quit. I sense that if you quit you also quit the seminary.” I think Father’s Peter words saved my vocation.

But God is good. There were historic floods in the Midwest. It rained and rained. Because it rained so much, it shortened the number of days I had to work with the boys in the pigpen. So in some funny way the floods also saved my vocation.

I was always amazed what Father Flanagan did by starting Boy’s Town. He is so similar to another hero of mine, Father Baker, who did the same work in Buffalo, New York.

What Father Flanagan did by starting Boy’s Town lives to this day. One of the dreams of Boy’s Town today is to have a Boy’s Town in every state. They are well on their way.

I remember when I was in the seminary and Father Val Peters was at my parents house, trying to get everything ready to start a Boy’s Town In Washington D.C. I remember the fight that the local Washington D.C.  Government gave him. For beginners, it was in a nice neighborhood. And we often know we love helping people but not in my back yard. But today, there is a Boys Town in that neighborhood it is a blessing to everyone.

Father Flanagan had the same struggle when he first started Boy’s Town. The city of Omaha forced him to go outside the city to Dodge Street. Funny that now it is on a prime piece of land.

When I worked at Boy’s Town and reflected on the wonderful and holy priest Father Flanagan. I can’t help but think that God’s hand was part of me working at Boy’s Town. I think working at Boy’s Town was God guiding me one day to start the Paul Stefan Home for Expectant Mothers.

As there are now many Boy’s Towns in many states. One day there will be many Paul Stefan Homes for expectant mothers in many if not every state.

I think if Father Flannigan were alive today, he would see homeless pregnant women as the new orphans.

It is such good news that the Diocese of Omaha Nebraska has open up the cause for Father Edward Flannigan.

I will be praying to him everyday, for his guidance, strength, love and his desire to help thousands of orphans, be they orphan boys, girls or homeless pregnant mothers.

I am convinced that if Father Flanagan were alive today he would be helping homeless pregnant mothers. Father Flanagan always rose to meet the challenges of his day. That is why we now call Boy’s Town Boy’s and Girl’s Town.

Father Edward Flanagan pray for us.

Father Stefan

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