Growing up, Brian Florin moved around a lot, but when his family moved to the South Bend-area when he was in eighth grade, he never would have imagined how much this would have an impact on his vocation.
When his parents, Dan and Kelly, first told him they were moving to the South Bend-area, all he really knew was Notre Dame football, but quickly discovered a deepening of his faith. St. Pius X in Granger became his home parish and this is where his faith continued to be nurtured and grown. Coming to St. Pius X and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend “put me in a really good spot to be formed as a young person.”
Florin shared about a mission trip to West Virginia that he went on the summer before his senior year at Marian High School in Mishawaka. It was on this trip that things just seemed to click. He realized, “God is really real and He loves me and I know He has a plan for my life.” Florin came away from this trip changed, which had an impact on his actions. He actually wanted to help around the house, started being more kind to his siblings and began to desire going to daily Mass, where he began to see Monsignor William Schooler as a spiritual father as well as the beauty of “pouring oneself as a priest.” The seeds were planted about a possible calling to the priesthood.
After Florin graduated from Marian, he started at the University of Notre Dame, studying accounting and theology. He went to college feeling a call towards the priesthood, but at the time did not feel ready to share this with anyone. Florin became involved in campus ministry at Notre Dame as well as the Notre Dame Vision program, a program by McGrath Institute for Church Life which brings high schoolers from across the country together for week-long camps run by mentors.
During his second semester as a mentor, Florin truly felt that he heard God calling him clearly. After listening to a vocation talk that summer, he became “floored by the idea of giving my life radically to the Church, making myself a gift as a priest.” Florin began to imagine himself in that life. He became so filled with joy that he texted his rector, Father Pat Reidy, CSC, to speak about his feelings. With Father Reidy’s encouragement, he began seeing a spiritual director during his senior year. Even knowing that he could no longer ignore this call, it took him two years to finally respond.
After he graduated from the University of Notre Dame, he began working at Dynamic Catholic. During this time, he shared with a few friends that he was feeling this call to the priesthood. His friends encouraged him: “If God is calling you to be a saint, you have got to say yes.” During his time at Dynamic Catholic, he met a priest, Father Jonathan Meyer, the pastor of three parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who greatly exemplified spiritual fatherhood and a deep love of the priesthood. He remembered Father Meyer looking him in the eye and saying, “After everything you have told me, I truly believe God is calling you to be a priest, but it’s up to you. God gives you the freedom to say yes or no.” Having other people affirm his call was a huge step in leading him to apply to the seminary in the spring of 2017.
Florin’s family life has also had a huge impact on his vocational journey. He recalled that every Sunday night, they would pray a family rosary, “whether we wanted to or not, but I feel like that really did form me, even without me realizing it.” Florin’s parents have supported him and, “if it were not for my parents and their example of love between each other that then flowed out towards us, there is no way I would be able to do this.”
Florin’s father, Dan, is the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Brian has six siblings and said he’s been deeply grateful to see how a priest can serve within his own family. “I’ve dreamed many times of being able to say Mass at our house for my family,” he said. He is grateful to witness how love can trickle down through the generations and feels truly blessed to have such a supportive family.
One saint who has been a friend to him throughout his time in seminary is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. He even has a statue of her in his dorm room. St. John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe are two others who have deeply influenced him.
As a deacon, he is most looking forward to living out his spiritual fatherhood. He said, “The desire that is written on a man’s heart to be a father and to pour one’s heart in this way is expressed both in physical and spiritual fatherhood.”
He feels that ordination will give him this opportunity through preaching and baptizing. He is looking forward to giving his first homily at St. Pius X on May 22 at the 10 a.m. Mass. “I feel like I have responded to this call and it’s finally being sealed up through ordination.”
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