Skills learned at Ripon lead to career in ordained ministry for Alan Leonard ’86

Ripon College’s approach to the liberal arts, its small class sizes and its comfortable distance away from his home are all a part of the solid foundation of education and service leadership for Father Alan Leonard ’86 of Inman, South Carolina. Recently, Leonard began a new chapter in his career working as the Church of the Advent’s new rector in Cape May, New Jersey.

At Ripon, Leonard majored in philosophy and minored in leadership studies. He also holds a master’s degree in counseling from Northern Illinois University, a master of divinity degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California, and is certified in clinical pastoral education from Dublin Federal Correctional facility.

Leonard spent 20 years as an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, six years as an Army chaplain, and 13 years ministering in South Carolina. Now, in Cape May, Leonard is eager to create a larger sense of community to represent the church and preach the gospel.

“(My areas of study) are both very valuable in ordained ministry,” Leonard says. “Theology and philosophy are very close, so my ability to learn and think about theological issues and share them with my congregation has been very useful, and leadership studies is very good to understand the dynamic of any organization, Christian or otherwise.”

Leonard says he values the connections he made with his professors at Ripon College, as they “knew me by name. We could talk comfortably and I could take advantage of their knowledge and skills in a small setting where everyone had an opportunity to share their thoughts and what they were working on.”

He also finds walk-on sports at Ripon a rewarding part of his education and appreciates practicing, playing and having fun with the soccer team. “If I had been at a larger school, I would have been cut, but it was fun that at Ripon College sports was a part of the deal,” he says.

He says learning to think critically was an important part of his education at Ripon, and that is helping to begin his new position and determining how he can best meet the needs of his congregation.

Dakota Marlega ’21
Waupaca, Wisconsin


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