Boys Town New Peak for Boes

Omaha World-Herald, Friday, April 15, 2005
by Rick Ruggles, World-Herald Staffwriter

Following in Father Flanagan's footsteps…Girls and Boys Town Leaders:
The Rev. Edward Flannigan, 1917 - 1948
Monsignor Nicholas Wegner 1948 - 1973
Monsignor Robert Hupp, 1973 - 1985
The Rev. Val Peter, 1985 - present

The Rev. Val Peter lifted the Rev. Steve Boes' left hand toward the ceiling, as though Boes were a boxer who had just won a bout.

In a way, he had.

The Girls and Boys Town National Board of Trustees on Thursday selected Boes from 150 priests and lay people to be the next executive director of the institution for abused and neglected children. The 70 year-old Peter will retire from the top job June 30.

Boes, 45, will take over the following day.

He has spent the past eight years at the St. Augustine Indian Mission in Winnebago. Neb. Boes said in an interview Thursday that he enjoys striving to reveal the beauty inside children with tough backgrounds.

He compared it to a beadwork band that a Winnebago artist made for Boes' cowboy hat, which he likes to wear sports events and various functions.

The artist intentionally put a bead out of place, Boes said, "because God places a flaw in us, an imperfection, and that doesn't make us any less beautiful… With hurting kids, it's a great message for them."

Boys Town's board chairman, John Gillin, introduced Boes at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the agency's national headquarters near 132nd Street and West Dodge Road. Boes will become the fifth leader in the institution's 88 year history.

Gillin said earlier in the day through a press release: "The fact that Father Boes is an Omaha Archdiocesan priest confirms there is exceptional talent in the area and maintains a long-standing tradition of this great organization's ties to the Omaha community and the Catholic Archdiocese."

Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss had wanted to appoint an Archdiocese of Omaha priest much sooner, but Peter and the board preferred a national search. The dispute led to Curtiss' resignation as board chairman in 2003.

Peter said Thursday: "We had a national search, and the best person for the job was found right here in the Archdiocese of Omaha."

Peter said that shows Boys Town intends to maintain it relationship with the archdiocese.

Peter will continue to be pastor of the Boys Town parish, and Boes will be associate pastor.

But Boes will oversee the entire Boys Town enterprise, from its many long- and short-term residential programs for children to it health-care programs.

Curtiss sent out a press release saying he was pleased that Boes was chosen.

Boes told the small gathering at Boys Town that as a mountain climber, serving as Boys Town's executive director would prove a high mountain to scale.

Boes said in an interview that he is a serious technical climber who attends climbing clinics and uses ropes and equipment to scale peaks in the Rockies.

"I think it's a great symbol for me," he said. "I am a risk-taker who always prepares well."

"I always study the mountain. I always do my homework," he said. "It's a pretty good analogy for what's going to happen here."

He said he was asked last August by the archbishop to apply for the job.

Among those at the gathering were his parents, Mary Jane and Gene Boes of Elgin, Neb. and three of his five siblings. Boes is the oldest of six children.

He was born in Carroll, Iowa and graduated from Pope John Central Catholic High School in Elgin. His father was a manager of grain elevators.

Gene Boes said of his son, "He's very sincere about what he does, very ambitious about what he does."

Boes has an uncle, the Rev. Marvin Boes, who is a retired priest in Sioux City, Iowa.

Boes attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for two years, studying primarily journalism and advertising, before he decided to become a priest. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology from St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota; a master's degree in theology and divinity from the St. Paul Seminary College at the University of St. Thomas; and a master's degree in counseling from Creighton University.

He said he was excited but confident about becoming Boys Town's next boss.

"Gosh, I'm going to be the fourth successor to Father Flanagan," Boes said. "I'm just so honored to be next in line."

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