January 15, 2009
Reflection by Robert Culligan, vice president for Institutional Advancement,
at Memorial Service for Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB
Jan. 15, 2009
Saint John's Abbey Church
For the past fourteen years, I’ve had the privilege and good fortune to work very closely with Br. Dietrich, criss-crossing the state, the country and the globe to meet with alumni and friends, to host events and to raise funds for Saint John’s.
During this time I experienced what so many have discovered: Br. Dietrich was a truly remarkable man. After his passing, I received hundreds of email from people all over the world, extolling the virtues of this talented, ambitious and determined monk. He was described as a one-of-a-kind human being, a visionary and passionate leader, a gentle giant, a velvet hammer, and a dear and loyal friend. Br. Dietrich was all of these things, and more.
At his funeral, alumnus Bill Sexton, for whom Sexton Commons and Sexton Arena are named, shared with me that “I feel like I lost a brother.” I told him, “I know what you mean, Bill, I feel like I lost a father.”
When Br. Dietrich returned to Saint John’s following brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic, we had a chance to interview him about his life and his legacy as the president of Saint John’s University. This 45-minute interview was conducted by two professors, Dr. Nick Hayes, Chair of Critical Thinking, and Fred de Sam Lazaro, Director of the Project for the Undertold Story.
As the interview was coming to a close, Fred asked Br. Dietrich about his proudest moment as president of Saint John’s University.
One might have thought that he would have mentioned increased enrollment or endowment growth, or referenced one of the many buildings that were constructed during his tenure, or advances to the coordinate relationship, or the creation of the Saint John’s Bible, or the most successful fund raising campaign in the history of the university.
And while all of these achievements were impressive and very important to him, Br. Dietrich chose instead to talk about his friendship and interaction with a student.
I am pleased to share with you Br. Dietrich’s proudest moment.