The Interim and its supporters marked the 25th anniversary of the publication in style with a dinner and silent auction at the Spirale Banquet and Convention Centre in Toronto on April 10.
About 300 people filled the hall to hear from several prominent figures associated with the newspaper, as well as featured speaker Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada and founding director of the website prowomanprolife.org.
The evening began with a spiritual invocation from Bishop Pearse Lacey, a retired auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.
“Looking out at this group is only proof to me of how God is so active in the lives of all of you,” he said. “God is very much present here. He is present in your lives. He is present in the things that you do and the convictions that you have.”
Lacey added that it is “by doing the things of God” that one gets to heaven. “How blessed we are to literally have come under the influence of God and responded to him.”
Master of ceremonies and chair of The Interim’s business board Dan Di Rocco offered welcoming remarks, noting that those present were “united in spirit and purpose … A famous Chinese sage once said that to know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice. The Interim has strived to drive home that point to elected officials and to the general public.”
Di Rocco added the newspaper’s outlook is based on the conviction that human life has an innate dignity and an eternal destiny.
“Cowardice asks the questions: is it safe?” he said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but … it is right. The Interim prods conscience in challenging times.”
Di Rocco said when God is banished from the world, the image of God – the human soul – is banished with him. “The Interim will not vacate that room, for that mirror must continue to reflect that image of life as created by God.”
He then read out greetings sent in writing by two prominent individuals who regretfully could not be present for the celebration. Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, wrote that The Interim performs important work in the cause of the sanctity and protection of human life. “I wish to assure you and all your collaborators of my best wishes and also of a remembrance in my prayers,” he said.
Canadian pro-life activist Linda Gibbons, who has spent long periods in jail for peaceful witnessing against abortion in Toronto, called The Interim “a bright and shining light. Keep up the good fight until all our unborn friends have breathing space.”
Current Interim editor Paul Tuns acknowledged a number of luminaries who were present at the event. Among them: Father Ted Colleton, who has raised $1 million for the pro-life cause through sales of his books and other media; Toronto City Councillor Mike del Grande; Toronto District Catholic School Board trustee Angela Kennedy; former Interim editor, and current Catholic Insight magazine editor, Father Alphonse de Valk; Ontario Family Coalition Party president Lynne Scime and her husband Dr. Carmelo Scime; Canadian Catholic Civil Rights League executive director Joanne McGarry, Dr. Thomas Janossy, a founding partner of StemExperts.com; and Radio Maria personnel Lou Iacobelli and Frank Ruffolo.
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition and The Interim’s first editor, offered a retrospective in which he recalled how the “mainstream” media ignored a press conference by abortionist-turned-pro-lifer Dr. Bernard Nathanson a quarter-century ago. “That’s when we decided to do something about it ourselves, rather than sit and wait for the media to come around.”
Although Hughes had no experience editing any kind of newspaper, he received valuable assistance from CLC employee Carl Scharfe, who had edited newspapers during his university years. Some scoffers pooh-poohed the idea of a regular Canadian pro-life newspaper, however, claiming there wasn’t enough news to keep the pages filled.
“But look what happened,” said Hughes. “Twenty-five years later, as society began to crumble, there was lots to write about.”
Hughes rhymed off a list of some of the people and organizations that have served as “builders” of the newspaper over the years – early advertising salespeople Jean Pakenham and Jim Duffy and later salespeople Dolores Toth, Marsha Hadley and Michaeline Bennet; Joe Borowski; Father Ted Colleton; writer and columnist Winnifride Prestwich; circulation manager Dan Di Rocco; editor Paul Tuns; office staffers Deny Dieleman, Helen Canata and Richmond Cochrane; Business for Life; LifeSiteNews; and the members of the business and editorial advisory boards.
In the end, however, Hughes said the success of The Interim lay at the feet of “all of you. You, the supporters, have made all this possible. It’s you who have been the backbone of the whole pro-life movement right across the country. You provided the funds that created The Interim newspaper.”
He concluded by thanking God, first and foremost, “for directing us to this vehicle that pushes back the ignorance that’s out there in society, shines a light into the darkness and tells the truth about what’s happening to our unborn brothers and sisters and those at risk in nursing homes.”
Singer Lilac Cana then offered a song before Rev. Roy Hamel of Light the Darkness Ministries in Guelph said grace. Mrozek took the podium after the meal for her keynote address. (See the text of her speech starting on page 11.)