Meet the Floeders: Fr. Frankie Floeder becomes third priest in a family full of religious vocations

Fr. John Floeder is quick to point it out: “Our family is far from perfect.”

Yes, even a clan with five religious vocations and counting has its disagreements, drama and disappointments. But a common thread amid the chaos, he said “is that we’re trying to say ‘yes’ to the Lord. And then we’re trying to encourage one another as we do that.”

When Deacon Francis “Frankie” Floeder became Fr. Frankie in May, he followed in the footsteps of his uncle Fr. John, director of human formation and the propaedeutic stage program at The Saint Paul Seminary, and older brother Fr. Louie, a fellow seminary alumnus and pastor of the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield, Minnesota. Another uncle, Tony, is currently a permanent deacon candidate at
the seminary’s Institute for Diaconate Formation.

A cousin, Sister Maddie Shogren, became the first woman to take temporal vows with Pro Ecclesia Sancta outside Peru, where the religious order was founded.

“[God] chooses to have different people in different roles for the building of the kingdom,” Fr. Frankie
Floeder said. “That’s something I’ve been really inspired by is just seeing how all of our siblings are pursuing the Lord in whatever it is they’re being called to. A number of my brothers and sisters are married, they have families, they have their careers. God’s calling my brother who’s a dentist to be a saint.
He’s calling my brother who’s an engineer to be a saint. He’s calling my brother in high school to be a
saint. There’s just this encouragement to do whatever God is calling you to do.”

The Floeders, most of whom live in the Twin Cities, trace some of their roots to Germany. “That comes
with a lot of work ethic, a lot of discipline,” said Fr. Louie Floeder, who celebrated his fifth ordination anniversary this spring.

Fr. Louie and Fr. Frankie are two of 10 children; their mother comes from Peru, so there’s some “Latina flair” in the mix, too, Fr. Louie said.

Being in such a large family taught them the meaning of self-sacrifice and working together as a team.

“We learned a lot of natural virtues,” Fr. Louie said, “not because we’re naturally virtuous, but because of
our large family size and the need for patience and sharing and cooperation.”

Faith wasn’t part of it. It was it. Sunday Mass was a non-negotiable. The family practiced special in-home devotions during Advent and Lent. Sunday mornings before and after Mass were spent discussing Church history or that day’s homily. Priests and religious brothers and sisters were frequent dinner guests.

“We learned a lot of natural virtues, not because we’re naturally virtuous, but because of our large family size and the need for patience and sharing and cooperation.” — Fr. Louie Floeder

Fr. John Floeder grew up in a similar environment. It was his brother and sister who first encouraged him to become devoted to prayer.

Today, Fr. John Floeder shares that same message with seminarians during their first year, called the propaedeutic stage, where they engage in deep prayer, contemplation, psychological counseling, community life and works of service while fasting from electronic media.

“If you look at my extended family, about 30 years ago, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that
our family would be this way,” Fr. John Floeder said. “What it took was, I think, God breaking into the hearts and the lives of some of my siblings in a really powerful way. As a younger man to watch them be growing in their own faith, that inspired me then as I tried to imitate them.”

So how does one go about raising a family where men and women are so predisposed to hearing God’s call?

  • There’s no magic formula, but the Floeders offer this advice from their experience — both in their families as well as in ministry:
  • Eat dinner together as a family — no matter what.
  • Be aware of God’s call to “heroic holiness” — even if you or your loved ones are struggling. That even includes straying from the faith. According to Fr. Louie, “We do the best we can, and then we trust that the Lord is the Good Shepherd. And that when I stray, he’s gonna find me and bring me back. And when my kids are having difficulties that he’s there to comfort them.”
    Set a good example. “For parents, you need to live the type of faith that you want your kids to have,” Fr. John Floeder said.

It’s not an easy life. But it is a fulfilling one. Go to one of the Floeders’ extended family gatherings, and you’ll see it.

“They’re loud,” Fr. Louie Floeder says with a smile. “Very joyful. There’s this kind of wild pandemonium.

“You never know what you’re going to get when you walk in the door.”

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