The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity presented its Distinguished Alumni Award to Fr. Francis Pouliot and William Reiling on May 10, 2010, at a ceremony in the seminary's St. Mary's Chapel.
In the presence of more than 225 people, Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector and vice president of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, presented the award to "two outstanding men whose ongoing commitment to vocations and The Saint Paul Seminary has had a great impact on the Church."
Fr. Francis Pouliot, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is a member of the Class of 1958. The middle child of 13, Fr. Francis Pouliot entered Nazareth Hall when he was 14 and completed his studies for the priesthood at The Saint Paul Seminary. He was ordained by Archbishop William Brady. Fr. Pouliot's assignments were at St. Mary, Waverly; St. Therese, Deephaven; St. Joseph, West St. Paul; St. Stephen, Anoka; St. Lawrence, Faribault; and Visitation, Minneapolis. He retired from full-time ministry on May 31, 2005 after 22 years as pastor of Visitation. On July 6, 2008 Fr. Pouliot resumed active ministry and began serving as senior parochial vicar at Maternity of Mary in St. Paul.
Over the years, Fr. Pouliot played a role in helping young men answer God's call to the priesthood. The list is long but one example merits mention: vocations director for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Fr. Peter Williams. As a child, Fr. Williams’ grandmother would take him to Mass at Visitation, where Fr. Pouliot was serving. Fr. Williams tributes Fr. Pouliot’s priestly example as a significant influence in his discernment of the priesthood. And in Fr. Williams' words about Fr. Pouliot: "It is evident that he loves being a priest – something that is like contagious joy for those who have the privilege of knowing him."
William Reiling, chairman of Sunrise Community Banks, was also honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. An honorary alumnus, Reiling has passionately served the community and the Church throughout his life. He has been instrumental in the growth and transformation of both The Saint Paul Seminary and Saint John Vianney College Seminary. In partnership with his wife Joanne, Reiling is co-chair of the I Will Give You Shepherds campaign, the seminary's first endowment campaign since its founding. In this role, and as a long-time member of the seminary’s board of trustees, he has enthusiastically shared the story of the seminary with so many and engaged many in the seminary's mission.
"In all he does – banking, community development, nonprofit and philanthropic ventures – Bill has a passionate commitment to developing leaders of integrity," said Msgr. Callaghan.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1995 as part of the seminary's centennial celebration. The award is given each year to recognize those alumni, both ordained and lay, who have lived their vocation in extraordinary ways.