Father Edward Joseph Flanagan (July 13, 1886 in Ballymoe, County Roscommon, Ireland; † May 15, 1948 in Berlin, Germany) was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. He was the founder of what is arguably the most famous orphanage—Boys Town. The campus is not just an orphanage, but now a center for troubled youth.
Father Flanagan was born in the townland of Leabeg, County Roscommon, near the village of Ballymoe, County Galway, Ireland. His parents were John (a herdsman) and Honoria Flanagan. He attended Summerhill College, Sligo, Ireland. He emigrated to the USA in 1904, and became a U.S. citizen in 1919. He attended Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where in 1906 he received a bachelor of arts degree and a master of arts degree in 1908. Father Flanagan studied at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York. He continued his studies in Italy and at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, where he was ordained a priest in 1912. His first parish was in O'Neill, Nebraska, where from 1912 he served as an assistant pastor at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. He then moved to Omaha, to serve as an assistant pastor at St. Patrick's Church and later at St. Philomena's Church.
In 1917, he founded a home for homeless boys in Omaha. Bishop Jeremiah James Harty of the Diocese of Omaha had misgivings, but endorsed Father Flanagan's experiment. Because the downtown facilities were inadequate, Flanagan established Boys Town, ten miles west of Omaha, in 1921. Under Father Flanagan's direction, Boys Town grew to be a large community with its own boy-mayor, schools, chapel, post office, cottages, gymnasium, and other facilities where boys between the ages of 10 and 16 could receive an education and learn a trade.