King’s, I am your Father

Father Ingalls, the new chaplain at King's.

Father Ingalls, the new chaplain at King’s.

Several months ago, Father Gary Thorne retired as chaplain of the University of King’s College. Thorne’s presence was felt and heard throughout the King’s community, whether he was cheering on varsity sports teams, leading students on excursions into the wilderness, lecturing young FYPsters, or lending an ear for to students.

Father Thorne will be missed, but filling his role is an old friend of King’s, Rev. Ranall Ingalls — though he prefers to be called Father Ingalls, or simply Ranall.

Ingalls was born in New Brunswick but raised in northern British Columbia. He studied and worked in Winnipeg and went to seminary school in Wisconsin, before returning to New Brunswick to serve several parishes, including one in Miramichi, where Ingalls met King’s alumnus Father Barry Craig.

Ingalls said he met some of Craig’s friends, and read some of the texts that Craig had read as Foundation Year student. Over the years, Ingalls would occasionally visit King’s as a guest lecturer or for special services, developing a relationship that has now spanned more than three decades.

Ingalls says students were a main draw for coming to King’s. While serving a parish in Saint John, N.B. Ingalls had encountered several King’s students, but he was also a professor in the philosophy department at St. Thomas University in Fredericton for six years.

“I really enjoyed that and really enjoyed the experience of teaching students — the conversations, arguments, the rest of it,” he said.

As a former professor and someone with several degrees, academics were also an attraction. Specifically, King’s’ approach to academia.

During our interview, Ingalls confessed that he hadn’t read texts such as Aristotle’s Ethics, nor Plato’s Republic, despite having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in philosophy.

“That just ought not to be possible, but there’s lots of us that do it and I was one of them,” Ingalls said. “One of the things that spending time with people like Father Craig and Father Thorne… impressed on you was primary texts.

“This is the way one ought to learn. Just start at (The Epic of) Gilgamesh and read as much as one possibly can.”

Ingalls added King’s tries to be a college in that there’s a sense of a commonality between students, “that each person can learn from one another, talk to one another.

“That’s something basic to what a university is all about, and it’s something that is largely forgotten.”

Lastly, the school’s choirs played a factor, because “you’re just constantly surrounded by beautiful music.”

The chaplain plays a major role in the King’s community and Ingalls said (with a hearty laugh), “It’s terrifying.”

“Particularly following someone like Father Thorne. But anything worth doing makes demands on us and here, one gets to take these things on surrounded by really insightful and hard-working and supportive people.”

Father Ingalls says he is shy by nature, so that is another hurdle for him in the chaplaincy, because the role requires him to be inviting and make connections.

Ingalls only started in his new role on Aug. 1, 2018, but despite the new demands and fears, he says he’s having a good time, and looks forward to sitting in on more FYP lectures, as well as working with more students and faculty.

“I’m already finding that I’m learning things all the time,” he said.

“It’s a bit of an adventure really.”

The King’s College Chapel is open to all people, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, and Fr. Ingalls stressed that anyone can come talk to him for whatever reason.

“As I said on Move-In Day, you don’t have to be religious. Just come by here and part of why I’m here is for anyone who wants to talk.”

Ingalls’ office is on the main floor of the A&A building, to the right of the lobby. He’s often accompanied by his Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Finnegan.

Finnegan is about a year-and-a-half old, friendly and Ingalls says “he still has a lot of puppy left in him.” Ingalls added that the pupper loves people and you’ll know he likes you if he jumps up on you and starts nipping at you.

The Watch will have more on Finnegan in a later issue.