New book, ‘Legacy of Devotion,’ highlights Father Flanagan’s life

The story of a priest who revolutionized the way orphaned, disadvantaged and troubled youth were cared for – and who now is under consideration for sainthood – is the subject of a new book by one of those youths.

“Legacy of Devotion” by retired Father Clifford Stevens, is a biography of Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town in Omaha.

Father Stevens moved to Boys Town at age 16 after the death of his father and is one of the few remaining people alive who knew the priest. 

“Father Flanagan was … an amazing man, way ahead of his time, and he didn’t care what anybody thought of him,” Father Stevens said during a book signing Jan. 25 at Via Christe Assisted Living Community where he resides. 

The book highlights the milestones in Father Flanagan’s life and his pioneering work that still influences how children are viewed, valued and cared for around the world.

About 30 people attended the book signing, including Boys Town Executive Director Father Steven Boes, Via Christe residents, Boys Town staff and volunteers.

Speaking during the event, Father Boes said the book sheds light on Father Flanagan’s life and the influences that made him the man he was. “I would call it not just historical, but it’s also psychological, spiritual and cultural,” he said.

“The system of care at the time was seriously broken,” Father Boes said. “Father Flanagan was setting up a brand new way of taking care of kids that treated them like you would your own children.” 

He also helped establish the current juvenile justice system to provide an alternative to trying children in adult courts, he said.

Father Stevens also wrote the book “I Remember Father Flanagan” about his experiences with the priest during his time at Boys Town.

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