On November 16, Preserving Christian Publications lost a member of its staff who had become in a sense the face of our Catholic book apostolate. Having started in 1983 in very humble surroundings, in Canajoharie and later Albany, New York, we were joined a decade later by Brian Pouliot. On his eighty-acre farm in Boonville, New York he had an old barn that he promptly converted into an office and warehouse for books, using the skills in carpentry that he had mastered in the previous ten years. His growing family helped their father in this work to make their property our central office. At this profoundly sad time for all of us associated with this work, we choose to let his oldest son tell the story of a devout Catholic father, who raised and supported his family while promoting the Faith, through the distribution of traditional Catholic books.
Dad's unexpected departure is an occasion of incredible sadness. It concludes the story of a man spending his entire life trying his best to take care of his family in the modern world.
Dad was born into a community of working-class French Canadians in New Hampshire during the summer of 1954. A large number of Canadians had immigrated, working in the local textile mills. At only five years old, during Christmastime, his father died, leaving him to be raised by a single mother. His aunt moved in to help raise him and support his mom.
At that time television was just entering into households (Facebook and Instagram now?) and he spent his early years watching television as a substitute father. His mom and aunt worked hard to survive. He told us many times he was very lonely. When his childhood friends went out with their fathers fishing in the New Hampshire streams, he was left alone with the television.
His aunt and mom worked very hard in the mills weaving clothes, saving so Dad could go to a good school. Between his mother and his aunt they were able to afford a good Catholic education. He really struggled for his first school years, but by sheer willpower and many long hours in the library my dad was able catch up with the academic requirements. He became very successful in the school (minor seminary) and was planning on becoming a priest. Unfortunately at that time the Church was attacked from the inside by a group of misguided people during the Vatican II years (1960s). This was the hippie era and many lay men and women were lax, not caring much about religion, God, or going to heaven. This was a perfect storm of unfortunate events for the Catholic Church. My father was blessed by a good spiritual director who suggested that he leave the seminary. At that time, the seminary was being filled with a new strange spirit and worldly men. Many questionable people joined the seminary for the sole reason of causing destruction and chaos, and my father left.
My father joined the Marines. He worked in the intelligence field monitoring shipments of weapons from Omsk and Archangel (former Soviet Union), to Cuba and Muammar Gaddafi. It seems to me he really enjoyed his time in the Marines as he developed a brotherhood with his fellow service members. He wanted to be an officer but he could not get promoted due to his glasses. Dad planned to join the Navy as an officer and then to transfer back. On the way to the Navy recruiting office in Boston he took a wrong turn on the crazy Boston roads and met my mother somehow. He proposed to my mom on the feast of Pentecost as they were going to Mass.
My mom and dad were married after the usual difficulties and uncertainties of courtship. They settled down in Boonville, New York. Mr. & Mrs. Greg Whittaker were very helpful to Dad and Mom and we will never forget their kindness.
Dad was active in the prolife movement and developed many strong friendships at the time with fellow prolifers (Mr. & Mrs. Joe & Vickie Kraeger). Due to the inaction of the bishops in New York, child sacrifice/abortion had just been legalized in New York. The prolifers at the time really felt betrayed by the bishops. Many of them began to go to the Traditional Latin Mass as they realized the spiritual problems were leading to the moral problems of child sacrifice. My mother and father joined fellow pro-lifers going to the Latin Mass. The rationale at the time was that if society will not respect God by having an appropriate worship service (Mass facing God vs. Mass facing the people) how would society respect an unborn baby?
According to Dad, this was the happiest part of his life – with his family, homeschooling, and experiencing the joys and pains that all married couples have. He worked very hard at construction to support his growing family. Later on, God introduced him to the world of Catholic book selling.
Dad became a Catholic bookseller for Mr. John Parrot. At that time, the 1990s and early 2000s, the “spring- time of Vatican II” was “not what was envisioned.” With all due respect and charity to the Catholic leadership, it does not seem that they were doing a good job. They were selling books, schools, churches etc. for pennies on the dollar without thinking of their true spiritual value. Dad's occupation was to go to these locations, all over the eastern seaboard, and buy these beautiful books. I used to tag along on these book-buying trips. We often bought Big Macs while traveling. This was a luxury to young me.
He worked very hard with Mr. Parrot to rescue the old books from people throwing them away. As the beautiful Latin Mass was thrown away, all the books were thrown away shortly after. My Dad was able to save many.
We had our childhood difficulties. It seemed to me that my dad tried his best to take care of us, as all fathers of large families do. My father and mother wanted us to have a good education. They did not allow TV in our house. My father and mother really wanted us to have a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin, to God, and the Traditional Latin Mass. My father realized that the Traditional Latin Mass is the most appropriate, reverent way to observe the rights of God. He read us the Latin Gospels often and personally taught us how to serve at Mass. After the bishop had closed all the Traditional Latin Masses within one hour, he drove us two hours to the Traditional Mass in Syracuse. Rain or shine, snow or hail, my dad drove us 160 miles every Sunday for many years. Our old 15-passenger van broke down often and Dad asked me to fix it.
Dad really came to love Gregorian Chant. He enjoyed singing with the premier schola at BVM Church in Syracuse. After he passed, I checked his youtube play list. The last music he listened to was the introit “Deus Israel conjungat vos” (May the God of Israel join you). This is the first part of the Traditional Latin Mass Gregorian Chant for a wedding. I like to think that his last thoughts were of his departed saintly wife Rosalind. Like many other parents of large families, he and she sacrificed so much to raise a family as best they could. They wanted their children to be happy in this world and in the next.
On Tuesday, my father will make his last trip to Syracuse.* On Wednesday, he will return for the final time to his home where he will be next to his dear departed wife and daughter.
Dad’s passing is very sad for all of us. As you get older you begin to realize the incredible heartaches and difficulties moms and dads have when they raise a large family.
Two excellent priests came to visit him in his final days. Right before the surgery, I held his hand and we said the Hail Mary and a Glory Be. I think I, and possibly all of us, can learn from Brian Pouliot’s hard work and long suffering throughout his life. He prepared well for his passing to the next world. Let us take Brian’s example today and also prepare our lives so we may join him, hopefully, someday in Heaven.
– Dominic on behalf of the Pouliot Family
*Brian Pouliot’s funeral took place on November 29, 2023. After the initial wake in Boonville, New York in the evening of November 27, his body was taken to the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel in Warners (Syracuse), New York, remaining there throuhgout the night of November 28. A solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated by Father Cyprian Rodriguez, OSB of Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, Silver City, New Mexico, assisted by other monks, among them Brian Pouliot’s son Brother John the Baptist (Benedict). Father Richard Boyle, SSPX of Blessed Virgin Mary Church assisted as Master of Ceremonies. The photos shown here were taken during the funeral Mass.