(Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan’s cause for canonization has been opened by Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha. This article highlights Father Flanagan’s place in the history of juvenile justice in the United States and his first efforts toward the establishment of juvenile courts for youths in trouble.)
Father Edward Flanagan, together with Judge Benjamin Lindsey1 of Denver almost single-handedly created the Juvenile Justice System of the United States, and their example was copied far and wide in other countries like Germany, Italy and even Great Britain.
Father Flanagan’s experience had come from his work with homeless boys on the streets of Omaha, which culminated in the founding of his first home for boys on 25th and Dodge Streets in Omaha. But it was only when his pioneer efforts at establishing a home for boys culminated in his move outside the city that his experience went way beyond Omaha, as he traveled with his boys throughout the Midwest and as far as New York and California.2
His first work was setting up a hotel for farm and harvest workers who were out of work because of a drought that had struck the Midwest in 1913.3 In 1914, these harvest workers returned to their jobs and his hotel became a refuge for men off the streets, who only wanted a free meal and a place for night.
Father Flanagan housed as many as 500 men a night. Concerned about their welfare, he made a survey of 2,000 of them and concluded that he was working at the wrong end of their lives.”4
Father turned his attention to boys on the streets after a nine-year old wandered into his hotel needing a place to stay. He became aware of boys on the streets of Omaha who got in trouble, were brought up before the courts and sentenced to the state reformatory at Kearney.
He spent time in the courts5 talking to judges, and he convinced them to parole a number of boys to his care. He met with them weekly, found a coach to occupy their time with sports and other activities, and then closed down his hotel for men and started his first home for boys.
In 1913, when Father Flanagan came to Omaha, the city was the gateway to the West. For over half a century, pioneers, Indian scouts, gold seekers, cattlemen and wave after wave of immigrants passed through the city, on wagons trains across the prairies or up the Missouri River from St. Louis, and then, as the railroad lines were laid, on the trains of the Union Pacific westward to California and Oregon.
In 1913, when he arrived at St. Patrick’s Church in Omaha, the city was expanding from the Missouri River west, and from the city center north and south, making Omaha the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco.
With it came all the problems of an open city: brothels and bars and gambling dens where the city met the river, and closed neighborhoods of Italian, Irish, Polish, Bohemian, German, Greek, Jewish and Scandinavian immigrants. Most of them poor, they gathered around their churches and synagogues in a city of corrupt officials and a political machine that had ruled the city since the turn of the century.
For all its pioneer flavor, the city came into its own with a lavish Trans-Pacific Exposition in 1898 that brought thousands to Omaha. It sparked a civic and commercial development that made many of its citizens not only rich and prosperous, but patrons of the arts, education, and civic enterprises that created some of its most durable institutions. The economy was based primarily on the stockyards of South Omaha which employed thousands, and the meat-packing industry which rivaled those in Chicago and Kansas City.
The politics of the city were controlled by a political machine headed by political boss Tom Dennison6 who manipulated the office of mayor for his own purposes and, from his headquarters in the city’s Third Ward, encouraged open vice, shady business practices, bawdy houses and underworld activities that gave Omaha the reputation of a crime city.
There was a respectable and prosperous element in the city that ignored the massive immigration poverty and kept aloof from the activities of Tom Dennison and his cronies. These families, most of them part of the business community, were deeply embarrassed by the growing social problems: the poor, the huge immigrant population, and then, this priest reminding them of the juvenile problem and the responsibility of citizens to save the youth of the city.7
The city did finally come to his aid and became proud of the remarkable town of boys that was growing up just outside the city. With wit, humor and brazen audacity,8 Father Flanagan trapped others into his way of thinking and turned the city of Omaha upside down by an unconventional appeal to their better instincts.
Eventually, he persuaded major companies of the city to display paid ads in his Boys Home Journal, and he challenged their investment practices by pointing out than an investment in the future of these homeless boys would bring greater benefit to the city than any other investment.
He was not appealing to their charitable instincts or to what he sometimes called the “Oliver Twist Appeal.” He was talking about hard cash and the return on hard cash, and it began to make sense to businessmen who were captivated by his logic and by his huge success with boys off the street.
To publicize his work, Father Flanagan took his boys on entertainment trips9 throughout the Midwest and surrounding states, and it was from that experience that he became aware of the fate of homeless boys in the courts and the complete lack of a juvenile justice system. “I enriched my own experience tremendously in those trooping years. I found that the problem of the homeless boy was not confined to any one section or any particular sized town or city.
“While conditions were aggravated in congested areas in cities, they were not peculiar to those areas. There can be just as much abuse of homeless and neglected children on farms and in small towns, as far as the individual child is concerned, as in any city.
“I took advantage of these travels to study the laws governing juvenile offenses, and found to my amazement that they were in most cases, very similar to those affecting adult crimes. In many states, these same laws are still operating. Every now and then the public is shocked when a child commits what is termed a major crime. Whether he is ten or eighteen years old, he is classed as a criminal, and the law says he must pay the penalty for his crime behind prison bars and high walls.”10
Then Father Flanagan made this salient observation: “Rarely does any community in which such a crime occurs take into consideration the environment and home conditions which contributed to this child’s delinquency. This child is to be punished, in most cases, for his neglect.”
The ‘Trooping Years’
Those “trooping years” were the first eight years after moving his home 10 miles out of the city, where Father Flanagan could set up his own school, gather a staff around him and eventually found a village of boys aptly named “Boys Town.” Its city government was run by boys, something that caught the attention of the world when Hollywood came calling and the movie Boys Town took the world by storm.
Turning over in his mind the experience of these trooping years, Father Flanagan turned his mind more and more to the roots and causes of juvenile crime. He found it in the one place that one would least expect: the juvenile justice court system. He found it first in a case that resembled in its stark tragedy a page out of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which he found unbelievable, inexcusable and almost criminal.
“It was but natural that my interest in the fate of neglected boys who came into conflict with antiquated laws would be ever-widening. My attention was attracted to prominent cases which got into the newspapers in other states, as well as my own.”11
One newspaper report caught his attention. It concerned two boys, seven and nine years of age. Like Victor Hugo’s hero, these two boys were convicted of breaking into a grocery store. They were arrested, brought before the court and convicted of a crime. They had lived with their mother, whose husband had deserted her, leaving her with no means of support. She often left the boys home alone. They survived as best they could. One evening they went searching the back streets and alleys for something to eat. Finding an open door into a grocery store, they entered and saw food all around them and began to eat. A night watchman making his rounds caught them devouring the food. He called the police and the boys were arrested.
“The law, seeking revenge on the boys’ neglect, convicted them and sent them to a juvenile prison.”
The Power of the Press
In his first real attempt to challenge the juvenile justice system, Father Flanagan appealed to the governor of the State of Missouri for the release of the boys, but was informed that the boys must pay for their crime and were not fit to associate with other children in an orphanage or youth shelter. He appealed to the governor again, but received an even less-courteous refusal. Then he offered to accept the boys at Boys Town, but the governor was adamant. Finally, the priest made a public issue out of it. It reached the newspapers, and the boys were removed from prison and placed in a home for dependent children. Father Flanagan suddenly realized the value of public exposure and the power of the press.
More and more horror stories reached him, and Father Flanagan came to realize that the juvenile justice system, as far as the youth were concerned, needed a vast overhauling. No child, whatever his age or the circumstances of his offense, was exempt from the brutal arm of the law. He made his own study of the juvenile justice system and found only one voice that resounded with the same indignation as his own: Judge Benjamin Lindsey of Denver, whom his boys had met at one of their shows in Colorado.
When he began his career in 1900,12 Lindsey began to fight the policies and politics of the court system in Colorado and soon became known as the “Kids’ Judge.” He fought for a juvenile justice system that treated children as children, looked into the child’s home situation and kept them out of adult prisons.
Like Father Flanagan in Omaha, he had to fight a statewide political machine that held both city and state government in hostage, and corrupt Democratic and Republican parties that carefully controlled candidates for public office and the courts and opposed any efforts at social and judicial reform.
By an accident of history, Lindsey was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a county judge where he made a name for himself as he tried to bring reforms in the judicial system.
Right away he became the target of the “Big Boss” organization of the city of Denver, which manipulated the courts and the government of the city to favor whom they willed. This stirred him to call a spade a spade and, in his own words, a beast. In 1910, Lindsey, went public with his reform campaign with the publication of The Beast.13
Through Lindsey’s friendship with Jacob Riis, whose photographs of the New York slums, How The Other Half Lives,14 brought the plight of the poor to national attention — in particular, to the attention of New York City’s Police Commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt.
Judge Lindsey joined a group of nationally known persons working towards reform of the welfare system and the end of child labor. Among these national figures were Jane Addams, Florence Kelly, Julia Lathrop, Samuel McCone Lindsay, Paul U. Kellogg and Homer Folks.
In 1904, Roosevelt was elected President of the United States and was introduced to Benjamin Lindsey by Jacob Riis. This began a lengthy association of Lindsey with President Roosevelt. The President endorsed Judge Lindsey’s basic principles of the juvenile court movement and recommended that such a code be adopted by Congress for Washington, D.C.15
Judge Lindsey and Father Flanagan
From his friendship with Judge Lindsey, Father Flanagan joined a generation of social reformers and opponents of child labor, became a vocal critic of the juvenile justice system in the country and was a major player in the reform of the system in Nebraska and in the nation as a whole.
Like Judge Lindsey, Father Flanagan decided to fight the system. From his research that began when he first stood before a judge asking that a boy in trouble be paroled to his custody, he knew that the law did not take into account the age of the boy, the circumstances in which he lived, the details of his home life or his supervision by adults. His description of the Missouri case showed the complete insensitivity of the law to circumstances that drove poor and hungry children to break the law.
“The first one of these cases in which I tried to help boys was that of Donald and George, seven and nine years old. These two children were convicted in a nearby state for robbing a grocery store. They were not only accused of the crime, they were convicted for it.
“Let us take a look at their childhood. The father and mother had quarreled for some time, previous to their separation. Soon after the younger boy was born, the father deserted and disappeared from the community. He was never heard of afterwards.
“When he had been head of the family, the family barely eked out an existence. But with that small income gone, the mother had nothing to turn to. She was incapable of earning much for herself, and if she were gone during the day, she had no one to leave her children with. This is the problem most common with those who need help.
“Finally, the mother gave up the struggle. She paid little attention to the boys, both of whom were of school age now. They shifted for themselves as best they could. They were ragged and hungry most of the time.
“But even children will not starve to death without some effort to get food. Donald and George made that effort. One evening they were wandering streets and alleys in search for something to eat. They had had no supper. They came upon a back door of a store that was open. The smells from inside told them that it was a grocery store. They went in.
“Here at last they had landed in the realm of plenty. There was food all around them, far more than enough for their supper.
“The night watchman making his rounds heard a noise in the store and, investigating, found the little boys. He arrested them and charged them with breaking and entering. The law, seeking revenge on the boys’ neglect, convicted them and sent them to a juvenile prison.”16
This was a classical case that Father Flanagan found repeated over and over again. By making the case public, he got the public on his side. After several refusals by local authorities, and even the governor, to place the boys in some place besides prison, the public outcry finally became so great that the boys were placed in a home for dependent children.
Father Flanagan found such horror stories multiplied and learned from bitter experience that the youth problem was a high-stakes game, with lives at risk and the future of thousands of youth in the balance. His words came sharp and decisive and sometimes caustic. He knew the critical importance of the public forum and the power of the spoken word. When he began his work for boys, it was the insensitivity of judges and juvenile authorities, their inability to see the harm that was done by poverty, homelessness and neglect that stirred him into action, then fired his mind as he put pen to paper.
He discovered early that he was matching wits with principled and unprincipled occupiers of power: judges, state officials, governors, many merely bureaucratic managers and occupiers of office, shaped by political pressures and the demands of the electorate. He learned to appeal to the electorate and it was the electorate that became his ally in his battle for homeless youth.
Father Flanagan’s travels with his boys on their entertainment circuit had brought him to all parts of the country, and he found the problem of the homeless boys was not confined to the larger cities. That was the shock. It was a national problem and almost a national crime.
Judge Ben Lindsey’s The Beast had fingered the root of the problem: the failure of city councils and state legislatures to recognize that children were not adults, and their failure to recognize the real root of the problem: parental neglect. But the more immediate cause was laid out in Lindsey’s book in all its graphic detail: political corruption at the state and city level. This was true of New York City, as Jacob Riis’s photos illustrated, and it was true in rural towns and villages where mayor and sheriff often conspired to run a village or town as their own private preserve.
The chapters of Lindsey’s book broke down the corruption in great detail, and the book itself became a handbook of political corruption at the highest level. But it was Father Flanagan’s experience of this in almost every state and city he visited with his boy entertainers that shocked him into starting his own campaign against the system, since the most innocent victims were children — usually boys.
Father Flanagan studied in particular the laws and practices affecting children. His anger was evident in his words, and there came a firm determination to work, if need be, at the highest levels of government to get rid of this “beast” and to use every store of intellectual, moral and political currency at his disposal.
“Everyone knows, who understands boys, that a child of ten, twelve or sixteen, who makes a serious mistake, has usually been robbed of proper guidance, and the distorted little brain, through neglect, does things which society considers criminal.17
He found himself fighting for individual boys; this brought him into ugly confrontation with state officials and juvenile authorities who did not share his conviction about the patently “bad boy” — the boy who had killed or committed some other crime of violence. To them the Flanagan conviction was criminal neglect and they resented this softhearted priest who could bite hard words into their faces and whose learning and logic could be phrased in language that slashed at their dignity. He stripped the juvenile problem to its naked reality and his fierce reasoning made him a terrible adversary.
One case that broke the back of the old juvenile system that Father Flanagan and Judge Ben Lindsey began to dismantle was the case that made history in the legal annals of Nebraska. It was a case of “boys being boys” in a small town in western Nebraska, where a group of boys playing hooky from school wandered along a railroad track outside of town and ran across a discarded coat in a ditch beside the track. They found a gun in a pocket and decided to play cops and robbers.
They picked up the gun, passed it around and one boy took it and pointed it at a buddy, just as he had seen it in the movies. “Bang, Bang!” he said as he pulled the trigger. The gun exploded and the buddy fell dead on the ground.
The other boys vanished, and the boy with the gun threw it away and saw that his buddy was hurt. In something requiring heroic strength in a nine-year old, he half-dragged, half-carried his buddy into town, pulled him upstairs to a doctor’s office and said to the doctor in boyish fashion: “Somethin’s happened! Somethin’s happened!”
He rushed to where his mother worked in a local store and was nearly hysterical. He had killed his buddy. Within minutes the news was all over town. People were gathering in backyards and on street corners, and it seemed that there might be violence. His mother was worried for his safety. Next day, the local newspaper was full of the story, and news of one boy killing another reached even the Omaha newspapers.
‘Out to Get Donald!’
A coroner’s inquest was held, and the shooting was declared accidental. But the whole town was aroused, and the mood of the people grew dangerous. Word reached the mother that the older brother of the dead boy was “out to get Donald!”
The news reached Lincoln, and a woman from the State Welfare Department was hurried to investigate. After talking to the boy and his mother, and discerning the mood of the town, she told the mother that there were threats against the boy’s life and that he was not safe in the town. The mother was advised to get the boy out of town until the case could be looked into by the proper authorities.
Father Flanagan’s boy entertainers had often played in that part of the state, and Father and his Boys Town were legends in these small towns. The mother took the train to Omaha and was at Father Flanagan’s door next day.
“I was sitting one afternoon in my office. . .when a mother with a little boy tapped at my door. I asked her to come in, and timidly she entered. The little son followed. The mother poured out her story: ‘They want to kill my boy,’ she said. ‘I had to bring him somewhere, so I brought him to you.’
“I told the mother that I would keep him until I looked into the case, and that, since I always worked with the courts, I would take the boy back if the court so ruled. I would assume full responsibility. She left to stay in a nearby town with relatives and asked me to keep her informed about what developed.
“After the mother left, I had a long talk with Donald. In his childish way, he told me the story. . .yet in the heart of that little boy there was no crime, no taint of murder. He had killed a pal . . .while he was playing. He suffered from that knowledge as only a child can suffer.”
Father Flanagan recognized that this was a test case: a boy caught in the tentacles of the law, helpless and alone. It called for immediate action. He called his co-workers together and laid the case before them. They all agreed that this case was a perfect example of why their town of boys existed, even if that meant taking legal action, and for Father Flanagan to do everything possible to take custody of the child.
He called Henry Monsky, his friend and lawyer, and Monsky advised Father Flanagan to accompany the boy to the trial and to act on his defense. The priest girded himself for a big fight.
“Immediately, I got in touch with the county attorney from which the boy and mother had fled. I told him I had the boy. . .and that, since I always cooperated to the fullest extent, I would bring Donald to his hometown whenever the court asked me to.”18
The County Attorney
Father Flanagan found that the county attorney was bitter because the boy had been taken from his jurisdiction. He held that the mother was trying to escape from the law, but did not perhaps understand that the boy’s life was in danger.
“I had given the mother to understand that my home was not a refuge for those escaping from justice, and that I would abide by the rulings of the court in her county.”
It is clear from Father Flanagan’s account in his memoirs that this case was a turning point in his fight against laws governing youthful offenders. He sensed a passion for revenge rather than justice, and he realized that something resembling gang rule often determined the outcome in the courts.
He was encouraged in this case because “the attitude of the county attorney changed somewhat when he knew that I would produce the child when the court willed. I was taking a gambling choice on winning custody of this little boy, because of the animosity of the community and the nature of the accident.”
Father Flanagan decided to take the boy home by train, a distance of about 500 miles, almost to the western edge of the state, and decided to go at night, just so the boy could get some needed rest and so he could get to know him better.
“We decided to make it at night. I didn’t want Donald to sit all day at the train window and think of what he was going back for, nor to await with dread and fear coming back to the town from which he was a little exile. We would take a Pullman and take the trip at night.”
Deep Paternal Instincts
Here is Father Flanagan’s very long account of the trip, the events that followed and the touch of greatness that his work with boys brought him to. It was not only a deep paternal instinct that he had developed for these troubled boys, but also a tenderness that pulled at his heartstrings for these young lives bewildered and broken by events beyond their comprehension.
“I dressed my little companion in a nice suit. . . anyone who could look at him and say he was a murderer would be laughed at.”19
His description of their ride together is almost like something out of Dickens, and he must have sensed that this was another Oliver Twist story — but in real life, not in fiction.
“Donald clung to my hand, as if he wanted protection on this strange ride. Night fell round us, and Donald soon fell asleep with the motion of the train. I knew he would be lonely during the night, so we had berths across the aisle.”
“During the night I heard him tossing and knew he was awake. ‘Father?’ It was a timid little call. I got up and looked in on him. He was sitting up in bed with a frightened look on his face.” ‘I’m here, Donald. Don’t worry.’ ‘Father, you won’t leave me, will you?’ ‘No, I won’t leave you. I’ll be right here. It will soon be morning and we’ll have a nice breakfast.’ ”20
They arrived at the courthouse in the county seat, and the judge, county attorney and town officials were waiting for them. The judge and attorney were disturbed that the mother had run off with the boy to escape justice, and Father Flanagan could do nothing to change their minds. The county attorney, Father noticed, was “ready and willing to exact his pound of flesh.”
The boy was sworn in, put on the stand and interrogated as if he were an adult. At this Father Flanagan interrupted and reminded the court that this was a juvenile case and that the interests of the child should come first, and he insisted that any questions to be answered should be referred to him. Then he came out with a blast that turned the whole case around and, in a sense, put the county attorney on trial.
“My purpose in being here is in the interest of this child. I refute the charges made by the county attorney, and I deny that this child is a murderer. I know that he is neglected and therefore, Your Honor, I appeal to you to turn this boy over to me. I am willing to abide by your decision in this case for I know it will be just. I know you want this boy to have a chance.”21
The county attorney, apparently surprised by this eloquent defense of the boy, chimed in that the boy was a criminal and a murderer and that he deserved punishment according to the full extent of the law.
It was seldom that Father Flanagan had shown his anger in public, but this time he turned on the attorney and said, “Do you in your heart believe this child to be a murderer? Look at him! Do you see anything in that little face that looks dangerous to society? I admit he is a victim of environment and neglect. But he is not a criminal!”22
Then he reviewed the facts of the case.
“Murderers do not drag their victims to the nearest doctor. They shoot to kill. This child and his pal were playing. Do you think that if he intended to kill that child he would have then taken him to a doctor, pleading for the doctor to save his life?”23
Turning to the judge, he pounded home his point. “Your Honor, you may have a son. Perhaps he is a grown man. But once he was a child as blue-eyed as this child, whom your county attorney wishes to call a criminal. This accident could have happened to your boy when he was playing Indian. Would you call him a criminal or a murderer? Would you send him to a reform school until he was 21?
“You know you wouldn’t. I admit the boy needs care and supervision. He has been neglected. If he is permitted to go on as he has, he may become a dangerous man. I am here ready and willing to take full responsibility for this boy and give him the care, education and training that he sorely needs. I promise it will not cost the county one cent.”24
Whole Atmosphere Changed
The whole atmosphere of the courtroom had changed dramatically after this outburst. The judge was in tears. Donald was crying. “The county attorney was wilted.” Father Flanagan knew the boy was his.
There was a long silence in the courtroom as feet shuffled, and it took a few moments for the court to come to order and for the trial to continue. An official report of the trial had to be drawn up, recorded and signed. The case would have to be recorded according to usual court procedure. But Father Flanagan’s task was not finished. No record of the boy’s “offense” must enter the official records or he was marked for life and his good name destroyed. That would affect his whole future.
However the county attorney was not finished. “He proposed that the charges he had made against Donald remain on the records and that he be paroled to me.”
“Some day,” I said, “this boy may return here, who knows, perhaps the graduate of a law school. He may be running for office as county attorney. I do not want to be so negligent that any opponent can come to these records and find something that might be used against him. It is unfair to any boy who has already had more than his share of burdens, to leave a record behind him that will, in any way, be detrimental to him. I want that boy’s past to be buried and forgotten.”25
“You may write the record, Father,” the judge said quietly.
Father Flanagan’s final words on this piece of drama that shook the Nebraska law community and changed forever the juvenile justice system of the state.
“The case was closed for all concerned. Never in my life do I remember being so spent as I was then. I bundled up my little charge and left the courtroom.”26
1 The Good Fight: The Remarkable Life of Judge Ben Lindsey, by Charles Larsen. Quadrangle Books. Chicago, 1972
2 His Lamp of Fire, memoir of Father Flanagan, unpublished, Ch. 7., p. 107. Boys Town Archives.
3 Ibid., Ch. 2., pp. 20-26.
4 Ibid., pp. 27-30.
5 Ibid., Ch. 2, pp. 43-45.
6 River City Empire, by Orville D. Menard.
7 Boys Home Journal
8 His wit and humor and gift for the caustic aimed specifically at the business community of Omaha is evident in this semi-editorial in his Boys Home Journal of September 1919, p. 2.
“The casual reader of the more or less prosaic pages of this periodical may have noticed that we made a plea for financial assistance in our August issue, and even burned the midnight oil in working out an equitable plan for financial assistance, to suit, as we thought, all purses, fat and lean — but maybe it’s the recent hot spell, or absence from home — at any rate, the building fund has NOT increased by leaps and bounds.
“Now if we were financiers such as the late George Fitch used to tell about, we might increase our building fund, either in hot or cold weather, after the following manner which George related. It was about the way the average financer turned the trick.
“If a financier had a dollar and needed two, he would use the dollar as first payment on a $10 bill, and would bond the bill for a $20 gold piece at $17, for one dollar down, to forty-five people, and then would dispose of a half interest in the entire transaction for $150, two dollars down, and the rest payable in short term notes.”
9 His Lamp of Fire, Chs. 4 & 5: pp. 83-107
10 Ibid., Ch. 6, p. I 18.
11 Ibid ., p. 120.
12 “Judge Ben Lindsey and the Juvenile Court Movement,” by D’Ann Campbell. Arizona and the West, Vol. 18, No. 1. Spring 1976, pp. 5-20.
13 The Beast by Ben B. Lindsey and Harvey J. Higgins. University of Colorado Press, 2009.
14 How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis. Reprinted: Dover Publications, New York, 1971.
15 The Beast, xviii-xix.
16 His Lamp of Fire, Ch. VI., pp. 120-121.
17 Ibid., p. 119.
18 Ibid., Ch. VII, pp. 155-161
19 Ibid., Ch. VII, p. 164
20 Ibid., pp. 164-165
21 Ibid., p. 170
23 Ibid. p. 171
24 Ibid., pp. 171-172
26 Ibid., p. 175
FATHER STEVENS, a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, ordained in 1956, is author of a number of books on religion, religious history and morality. During the 1960s, he served as an Air Force chaplain. After leaving the Air Force, he became executive editor of The Priest magazine and was editor/publisher of Schema XIII, a Journal for the Priest in the Modern World. In the 1980s, he pursued his dream of founding a monastery with a purer ideal than he had seen in contemporary orders. He founded Tintern Monastery, a contemplative house of prayer, on a farm near Oakdale, Nebraska. The experiment was ended in the mid-1990s. He writes from retirement at Boys Town.