The Cause for Canonization for Servant of God Edward J. Flanagan has entered a special stage. This past summer, the Diocesan phase of the Cause was closed during a Mass at Omaha’s St. Cecelia’s Cathedral. This phase involved a comprehensive review of the Servant of God Flanagan’s writings and a collection of memories from people who knew him.
You may wonder why I use the term “Servant of God Edward Flanagan” rather than “Father Edward Flanagan” in my blogs. It is because when his Cause was opened, his name officially changed to Servant of God Edward Flanagan. This new title reflects the great honor that goes with the opening of the Cause for sainthood. As the Cause moves forward, his title would move from Venerable Edward Flanagan, to Blessed Edward Flanagan, and finally, to Saint Edward Flanagan of Boys Town.
When the Cause was opened in 2012, tribunals and commissions were organized by Omaha Archbishop George Lucas. The Historical Commission collected the writings of Servant of God Flanagan and organized them into various subjects. Several tribunals reviewed the material and presented their findings in confidential reports that were reviewed by the Archbishop.
The tribunals looked for examples of Servant of God Flanagan’s heroic virtues and his fidelity to the Catholic faith. The final reports were organized into dossiers that totaled more than 4,000 pages. The reports were placed in four boxes that were sealed and sent to the Vatican.
On October 13, 2015, the boxes were unsealed at the Vatican and a new set of commissions and tribunals began their work in Rome, beginning the Roman phase of the Cause. This phase will take at least several years to complete and will include a review of the written material as well as possible miracles attributed to Servant of God Flanagan.
Since 2012, a number of possible miracles have been reported to the Cause. Each one must be examined and determined to be factual. Any possible miracles are submitted to the Vatican for review. If the Vatican finds examples of heroic virtues in the writings of Servant of God Flanagan and determines that a miracle occurred due to his intervention, Pope Francis could declare him “Venerable.”
After the declaration of Venerable, another miracle would have to be attributed to Servant of God Flanagan in order for him to be declared Blessed, the final stage in the canonization process.
God willing, Servant of God Edward Flanagan will one day be declared a saint. For now, we ask for prayers for his Cause and for the children and families served by Boys Town.