Fr. Alphonse de Valk speaks at the testimonial dinner in his honour Oct. 18. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Fr. Alphonse de Valk feted as a man ahead of his time

  • October 25, 2012

TORONTO - About 300 people from the pro-life community filled a banquet hall at Spirale Restaurant Oct. 18 to honour Fr. Alphonse de Valk, the recently retired editor of Catholic Insight magazine.

“He was ahead of his time with his warning of legalizing abortion,” said Steve Jalsevac, managing director of LifeSiteNews. “In all the years I’ve known Fr. de Valk he’s been faithful, faithful, faithful.”

Jalsevac first got to know de Valk in 1984 when the Basilian priest moved to Toronto from the Prairies, where his pro-life journalism began shortly after penning Morality and Law in Canadian Politics: The Abortion Controversy. Both members of Campaign Life Coalition, which de Valk joined in 1978 while principal of St. Joseph’s College at the University of Edmonton, the two were always able to look past their personal differences in the name of life.

“Both being Dutchmen, actually I’m only half Dutch, we’ve had our differences,” said Jalsevac at The Testimonial Dinner for Fr. Alphonse de Valk, which was sponsored by a number of pro-life organizations. “But I prefer a man who isn’t lukewarm.”

As a post-secondary educator in both Saskatoon and Edmonton during 1970s and early ’80s, de Valk published more than 200 articles addressing abortion issues in papers which circulated on the campus. These writings helped to recruit young pro-life support.

While living in Edmonton de Valk had gathered enough supporters to begin publishing booklets, 12to 24-pages long, focusing on issues facing the pro-life movement. The group produced 36 editions over a 15-year period before de Valk moved eastward and joined Campaign Life Coalition fulltime.

“It was a wonderful thing to find a group of people whom we could associate with and who shared the value of human life, who shared the teachings of the Church,” said de Valk.

He also began writing for The Interim, a Toronto-based pro-life newspaper, that same year and eventually became editor, a position de Valk held from 1987 to 1992.

As a reporter, de Valk made the transition from advocate to activist when, in 1985, he was arrested for chaining himself to the Morgentaler Clinic’s gate. One night in the Don Jail was all de Valk served thanks to the province’s Attorney General withdrawing the charges after hearing a priest was imprisoned.

The arrest didn’t scare off de Valk who continued to be a regular, slightly less radical, picketer outside the clinic every Friday for almost five years — even after the 1989 injunction prohibiting such protests. Over these years he was arrested another eight times and fined $750 or two weeks in jail for trespassing — a fine he hasn’t paid, jail time he has not served.

“Fr. de Valk could always be counted on to state the blunt truth about controversial goings on,” Jalsevic wrote in the evening’s program.

De Valk continued to do just that after leaving The Interim with the launch of Catholic Insight in 1993.

Following a stroke, and his 80th birthday this March, de Valk decided that Catholic Insight’s publisher, the Board of Directors of Life Ethics Information Centre, should seek a new editor.

Although no longer a member of the editorial team, de Valk continues to sit on both the advisory and publishing boards of Catholic Insight.

“God’s grace has allowed us to withstand the sexual revolution,” de Valk said during the dinner’s closing speech.

“Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord rather than for me since you know fully well that you will receive an inheritance from Him as your reward.”

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