BROTHER FLORIAN FLYNN, C.S.C. (1850-1923)

Brother Flo (James Flynn) was born in Ireland in 1850 and entered Holy Cross in 1876.  After a brief illness he died in 1923.  He was a teacher for most of his years in Holy Cross and spent the last twenty years at the University of Notre Dame as a rector of St. Joseph Hall (now Badin Hall).  In 1916 he became the university guest master.

The following extracts are adapted from a 1923 Scholastic article written in his remembrance. “While the field was ringing with enthusiastic delight in one of the best games Notre Dame has seen, a little bell rang out also to say that Brother Flo had died.  We should have chosen no other setting for this last voyage of his; he must have liked to know that as the hard days were drawing to an everlasting end for him, the boys were back at the old school once more, thronging in to find it the same place that their youth had dreamed it was…. Brother Flo was a man of God, of course, but also a man of the earth.  There was the unflagging question mark in his character which beguiled us. There was the canny calculation of a mind utterly too simple for strategy.  You met Flo, but that wasn’t the end of it.  Every new contact was a revelation that made you not only smile, but also smile affectionately.  He had in himself everything that has run like a stream through generations of education here.  His pockets were crammed with community cigars, which atrocities were bestowed with a condescending grace that somehow perfumed the ensuing smoke with odors of Havana.  The flavor of Flo’s handshake combined something of the dignity of a Presidential greeting with the spice of a recklessly off-side—as if this expression of cordiality on his part were being done against all the rules of the game, for the sheer pleasure of the game.  And to proceed with Flo down the spaces of the art galleries! His were the remarks of a connoisseur who treated every picture with reverence—and originality.  There never was a better Notre Dame man.  Every stone and stick of the place were catalogued in his heart, and he treasured the voices of old boys long after they had been brushed away by the long winds.”

And from Brother Aidan’s Extracts: “The life of Brother Florian was a golden moment of Christian Charity.  As rector for ten years of St. Joseph Hall, this noble man of Christ wound himself inextricably into the lives of the motley throng…. To those who went to him for advice, for a faculty cigar, or merely for the opportunity to enjoy his loveable and unique companionship, he was a real friend…. About him hung a mantle of human feeling which he was ready to share with any disheartened wayfarer. In a world that in places seems more or less ungodly, he pierces the gloom with the homely glow of memory.”

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