Father Floeder’s vocation stirrings go back to first grade

| May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Father Louis Floeder received a “crazy thing” from his mother when he graduated from high school eight years ago.

Father Louis Floeder

Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Chany Floeder pulled out an assignment that Louis, her second-oldest child, had completed in the first grade. In it, he had written that he wanted to become a priest someday.

These words were the start of what he now calls the “love story” of his journey to the priesthood, which brought him to the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul May 25 for his ordination.

By the time Father Floeder saw his first-grade paper, he already appeared to be on a path toward a religious vocation. During his junior year at Mounds View High School, he had an inspiring visit to St. John Vianney College Seminary of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul at the urging of his father, Steven.

Though a career class at Mounds View seemed to point to engineering, he experienced something at SJV that grabbed his attention and drew him toward the priesthood.

“I saw 160 guys giving it all during the holy hour, and I remember Father (Bill) Baer (then rector of SJV) saying as Catholic men, we need to build up the faith with one hand and defend it with the other,” said Father Floeder, 26, and then a member of St. Louis, King of France in downtown St. Paul. “So, seeing these men kind of sparked something in me. And, after that… I poured my whole being into prayer.”

He applied to SJV during his senior year and was accepted in January of that year. But, it was by no means a foregone conclusion when he got to campus in the fall that he would be ordained someday. He said what he calls the “priest-o-meter” at that time was hovering at about 50 percent.

“You enter to discern,” he said. “So, I guess the priest-o-meter went up in percentage the more I had concrete experiences of God’s love for me. Having these concrete experiences revealed who I was.”

He said “the most powerful example of this” was when he spent 11 weeks the summer after his sophomore year serving the poor in the Bronx, New York, at St. Crispin Friary of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. In this poverty-stricken neighborhood, he met alcoholics, drug addicts, abusive fathers and convicted felons. The experience working alongside the Franciscans helped him understand more deeply the dignity and worth of those they served.

“They’re so beautiful in God’s eyes,” Father Floeder said of the poor he served while there. “After 11 weeks, they became kind of the brothers that I never imagined that I would have.”

As he reflected in the chapel on his last day there, he began to cry. He asked himself — and God — why he was so deeply touched.

“It was because of the beauty of these men’s souls,” he said, “and the gift that they were that summer, that God had given them to me.”

He valued that gift, and realized that God used it to show his love for him. By the time he got back home, the priest-o-meter had gone up to 90 percent.

The spring of his junior year at St. Thomas, he went to the university’s Bernardi Campus in Rome for the entire semester. While there, he went to Assisi during Lent and visited the place where St. Francis is buried. The group went down to the crypt and meditated on the Gospel reading for that day, which was the story of the prodigal son. That caused a vocation connection.

And, put an end to the priest-o-meter.

“At that point, it’s like, ‘OK, Lord, my vocation isn’t a percent (on the priest-o-meter), it’s a yes,’” Father Floeder said. “‘Lord, all that you required of St. Francis to make him one of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church was his yes.’”

Since that semester, Father Floeder has not wavered in giving his daily yes to his calling to the priesthood. Providing support along the way, especially at the St. Paul Seminary, is his uncle, Father John Floeder, who is on the SPS faculty and serves as dean of seminarians and instructor of moral theology.

“He’s like a rock that I can go to for anything,” Father Floeder said. “He’s someone I can go to as both a priest on staff to help me around SPS, but I can also go to him kind of off the books as an uncle.”

Father Floeder’s first assignment as a priest will be as parochial vicar of St. Stephen in Anoka, effective June 12. At his May 25 ordination, he looked forward to the portion of the Mass in which priests attending give an embrace, called the Kiss of Peace, to the newly ordained.

“That’s just such a beautiful moment,” Father Floeder said. “I’ve thought of my uncle going down the line and welcoming me into this reality that he’s been living, this gift from God that is our vocation.”

Looking ahead, Father Floeder envisions the possibility of doing the same thing someday for his younger brother Francis, who is currently a junior at SJV.

When it comes to priestly ministry, Father Floeder had a quick answer to what his favorite part will be.

“I’m really looking forward to praying the Mass,” he said, “because that’s the best thing that a priest can do, not only for his people, but for the whole world.”

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Category: Ordinations