Boys Town Logo
Boys Town Logo

Father Flanagan Email Series: Issue 2

Father Flanagan's Response to Crisis and Youth

In early December of 1917, the Omaha archbishop relieved Father Edward Flanagan of his parish duties, so the local priest could move forward with his plan to open a home for these wayward boys. Soon after Father Flanagan borrowed $90 from a trusted friend and put down the first month's rent on the Byron Reed home, an old boarding house near 25th and Dodge Streets.

The first home opened with five boys between eight and ten years old. By the end of that first week, he had 15 boys. By the end of December there were 30 boys! When summer came that year, boys began appearing from outside of Omaha who had heard about the kindly priest and his home for boys.

At the end of 1918, Father Flanagan realized he’d had more than 200 boys pass through his care. Some returned to improved family situations and some were placed with local families under Father’s watchful eye. It was clear that a bigger facility was needed, so Father Flanagan rented the former German American home in South Omaha.

As for the house on Dodge Street, it was torn down in the early 1960s. At some point an unknown person collected a small chunk of limestone from the rubble. 

A Safe Place for ALL Boys

With room for 100 boys, classrooms, a baseball diamond, vegetable gardens and more, the spacious new home for the boys was heaven sent. For three years, Father Flanagan hosted boys from Omaha and beyond, but not everything was perfect. Much of Omaha did not look kindly on the fact that ALL boys were accepted to Father’s home, regardless of race, religion or troubled background. All boys were welcome and all boys were treated the same at Father Flanagan’s Boys Home.

The Boys Home had parish priests, nuns and the Mother’s Guild, who supported the endeavor. But as some Omaha groups and families cast a judgmental eye on the home, Father Flanagan knew he needed a place of his own.

Parents and guardians of children must become more conscious of the responsibilities which God has placed upon them. We must become more virtues in our own lives that we may teach more effectively.

The lesson of proper citizenship by example, as well as instruction, kindness and love will open the heart of any problem, boy, that heart will melt within the warmth of the sunshine of love.

I have really never found a boy who wanted to be bad.

I know when the idea of a boys' home grew in my mind, I never thought of anything remarkable about taking in all of the races and all of the creeds. To me, they are all God's children. They are my brothers. They are children of God. I must protect them to the best of my ability.

Father Flanagan

Next Issue… the move to Overlook Farm

he aint heavy statue

We’re still building Father Flanagan’s dream one precious child at a time.

Your donation holds the key to breaking cycles of adversity, offering hope, and nurturing dreams.