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Chaplain thrived on personal connections

Brian Yealland feels very lucky to have had a role as rewarding as Queen’s chaplain for the past three decades.

“It takes my breath away to think about the past 30 years and the deep involvement I’ve had in peoples’ lives,” says Chaplain Yealland, who retires in June. “I’m the luckiest guy alive.”

Those personal connections, developed by providing spiritual guidance and support to students, staff and faculty, were the backbone of his role as chaplain, and what drove him in his work every day.

Chaplain Yealland was also driven by a belief in social justice and a desire to build a more inclusive campus community. He did this in a number of ways, but one of the most prominent was the formation of the Interfaith Council in 1983, when he began as chaplain. He worked with the council to develop new protocols to accommodate religious needs on campus.

“Brian has been an amazing source of support for students, faculty and staff at Queen’s,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “In addition to the individual connections he has made over the years, he has provided outstanding service to the university community, presiding over many celebrations and other campus events and he will be greatly missed.”

As a young man, Chaplain Yealland developed a strong interest in theology and philosophy, and an appreciation for a wide array of religious practices.

“I gained spiritual insight wherever I could find it,” he says. “I realized that there is a common truth expressed in all faiths, that life is more than day-to-day existence and that we are all connected.”

Chaplain Yealland graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1969 and his Master of Divinity from Queen’s Theological College in 1972. He was ordained a minister of the United Church of Canada the same year. Prior to his chaplaincy at Queen’s, he counselled inmates for 11 years as a parole officer with the Correctional Service of Canada.

During retirement, Chaplain Yealland wants to devote more time and energy to his family. He plans to visit his son, a teacher, in Mexico, and enjoy relaxing summers on the lake with his wife. He will spend more time writing music and playing keyboard in his band. He also plans to do more volunteer work.

“I want to assist with humanitarian missions, maybe Habitat for Humanity” says Chaplain Yealland. “I want to help with projects that assist communities both globally and locally.”

A celebration of Chaplain Yealland’s contributions to Queen’s will take place with live music in the Living Room of The Mansion at 506 Princess St. on Tuesday, June 11 from 7-11 pm. Everyone is invited to attend, and donations to Camp Outlook in honour of Chaplain Yealland are welcome.