WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Fr. Brian Inglis enjoys the 'good and deeply faithful people in the (Our Lady of the Foothills) parish.'
HINTON — After he read the works of St. Thérèse de Lisieux as a teenager, Brian Inglis knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving the Lord.
So he joined the Basilian Fathers right out of high school and was ordained a priest for this teaching community of men in 1961.
He taught philosophy for almost 30 years, more than 20 of them at St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta. And when he reached the retirement age of 65, he decided to stay in Alberta and serve as a pastor.
Inglis, now 78, has been pastor at Our Lady of the Foothills Parish in Hinton for the last 13 years.
On June 29, he will mark 50 years of his ordination to the Basilian priesthood, a vocation he describes as a blessing. "It's been a good life," he says.
Born in Toronto the youngest of two, Inglis attended a Catholic high school when his parents made sacrifices to pay the $75 annual tuition.
From early on, Inglis had been drawn to the Church to serve Mass and to sing in the children's choir. "I loved the Mass, the music, the Gothic architecture and I would gaze at the stained glass windows with scenes depicting Jesus, Mary and some saints," he recalls.
He learned in Grade 1 why God had made him: "To know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with him in the next." He accepted that premise and decided to dedicate his life to it.
When he was in Grade 10 he had to write a book report on St. Thérèse of Lisieux who had the same idea about the meaning of life and who entered a religious order in her teens.
"From reading her story, I saw religious life as a life focused on God and works of service."
St. Michael's High, the high school that Inglis attended, was run by the Basilian Fathers who served the Church primarily as teachers and ran schools in Canada and the United States. So the summer he graduated he joined the Basilians at the age of 18.
The young man wasn't too interested in teaching but understood that "teaching was part of the deal" if he wanted to be a member of the Basilian community.
"I was looking for a religious community to join and they happened to be the ones there," Inglis said. "I was very happy with the simple, focused life they led."
His parents were disappointed because by joining the Basilians, Inglis wouldn't stay in Toronto. "They were happy I would be a priest but they were sorry I wasn't a diocesan priest because that would have kept me in Toronto."
After graduating from university, Inglis taught high school in Toronto for two years and then began studies for the priesthood at St. Basil's Seminary. On June 29, 1961, the feast of St. Peter and Paul, he was ordained in Toronto.
The community moved him around in the early years and he taught in Toronto, Saskatoon and Houston, Texas, and then for 23 years, at St. Joseph's College in Edmonton.
Inglis said he found teaching a challenge because he was not temperamentally cut out for it. But he admitted to having learned a lot in the process.
"I was blessed to teach philosophy, and for 29 years to immerse myself in the thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, the history of Christian philosophy, ethics and other subjects," he said.
"It was my privilege to introduce (U of A students) to great thinkers as I tried to understand their thought myself. In fact, I found that in trying to share these thoughts with the students I came to understand them myself. It's in giving that we receive."
When Inglis turned 65 and had to retire, Archbishop Joseph MacNeil asked him to consider helping out at Our Lady of the Foothills Parish. He hesitated because he had little knowledge of parish life, but in the end he agreed.
"It has been a great blessing to me to serve the parish in Hinton," he says. "There are so many good and deeply faithful people in the parish. I'm constantly urged, out of regard for them, to be faithful to Christ and to the teaching of the Church."
Inglis is not thinking of retirement yet. But when it comes, he will move to the Basilian retirement home in Toronto.