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G.K. Chesterton scholar Fr. Ian Boyd dies at age 88

Fr. Ian Boyd lecturing on Chesterton

Courtesy of the G K Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture

John Burger - published on 01/16/24

Basilian priest from Saskatchewan established The Chesterton Review at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Fr. Ian Boyd, an internationally recognized scholar of G.K. Chesterton, died in Edmonton, Canada, on January 10, 2024. He was 88 and had been receiving palliative care, according to the Congregation of Saint Basil in Canada — the Basilians — the religious order to which he belonged for 66 years.

Fr. Boyd, a priest for 60 years, founded the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture and its widely recognized journal The Chesterton Review. He began teaching at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, in 1999, bringing with him both the Institute and the journal. Both are now permanently housed in the Center for Catholic Studies there.

He retired from teaching at Seton Hall in 2020.

Joseph Ian Boyd was born on January 23, 1935, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and was reared in Blaine Lake, a small town north of Saskatoon. One of his six siblings, Leo, was an Oblate priest who ministered to indigenous communities in northern Canada.

As a child, Fr. Boyd became acquainted with the works of G. K. Chesterton by reading his father’s copy of G.K.’s Weekly, a periodical that Chesterton published from 1924-1936. The young man went on to study at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, graduating in 1956. He earned an S.T.B. Degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto in 1964; an M.A. from the University of Toronto the following year, and a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1970.

Discerning a priestly vocation, he was impressed with the intellectual and academic tradition of the Basilian Fathers. He entered St. Basil’s Novitiate, Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto, and made his first profession on September 21, 1957. He was ordained December 15, 1963, in St. Basil’s Church, Toronto, by Cardinal George Bernard Flahiff. His first Mass was celebrated in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Edmonton, with his brother, Rev. Leo Boyd OMI, as assistant priest.

For many years, Fr. Boyd was Professor of English at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. He founded the G.K. Chesterton Institute in 1974, while at St. Thomas More and after attending the Centenary Conference of the Birth of G.K. Chesterton.

Fr. Boyd was the author of G.K. Chesterton: A Centenary Appraisal (1974), The Novels of G.K. Chesterton (1975), and others.

At the invitation of universities, study-centers and various organizations, Fr. Boyd traveled all over the world sharing his knowledge of Chesterton and his circle and his scholarly work, inspiring a new generation of Chestertonians. He lectured across the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America and Japan.

“Fr. Boyd did good work, through his love for God and his obedience to his purpose,” said Katia Passerini, interim president of Seton Hall, in a statement. 

In addition to lecturing about Chesterton, Maurice Baring, Paul Claudel, Charles Peguy, Hilaire Belloc and others, he also lectured on the subject of “Sacramental Themes in Modern Literature.” Among the Christian authors whose work he discussed are T.S. Eliot, Graham Greene, C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, Piers Paul Read, Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh. In 19th-century literature, he was also interested in the work of such authors as Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Archbishop Richard W. Smith of Edmonton will preside at the funeral for Fr. Boyd on Saturday, January 20, at St. Andrew’s Parish in Edmonton.

The G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture has established an In Memoriam Page for Fr. Boyd and is collecting tribute messages from those who knew his work:

CanadaGK ChestertonObituaryPriest
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