Fr Ian Boyd

The Australian Chesterton Society shares the sadness of the worldwide Chesterton community in learning of the death of Fr Ian Boyd on January 10, 2024, just two weeks short of his 89th birthday.

A Canadian by birth, a Basilian priest by vocation, and a Chestertonian by mind and heart, Fr Boyd played a founding role in the modern revival of Chesterton studies.

In 1974, the centenary year of Chesterton’s birth, he established the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture and also launched the journal, The Chesterton Review, initially at St Thomas More College, a Catholic liberal arts college federated with the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and later at Seton Hall University in the American state of New Jersey.

Fr Boyd used both these platforms, the Institute and the Review, to cultivate a global audience for Chesterton. For the first time this embraced professional scholars as well as devoted lay readers, and resulted in a fresh appreciation of
Chesterton in university circles.

Under his editorship, The Chesterton Review built up an enviable reputation for impressive scholarship combined with readability. It has consistently demonstrated Chesterton’s international appeal, attracting contributors from many countries.

Fr Boyd also organised conferences in every continent. At his invitation, I visited Buenos Aires in 2006, to speak at a conference attended by several hundred delegates. The then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), owned several books by Chesterton and served on the committee arranging the conference on behalf of the Argentine Chesterton Society. He encouraged those seeking to initiate Chesterton’s cause for canonisation, and he approved a private prayer for that purpose.

In all his work for the Chesterton Institute and the Review, Fr Boyd was greatly assisted by Dr Dermot Quinn, who succeeded him as the Review’s Editor in 2020, and by Gloria Garafulich-Grabois, a native of Chile who has long been the Institute’s Director and the Review’s Managing Editor, and played a key part in developing foreign language editions of the journal, especially for Spanish-speaking readers.

The Chesterton movement in Australia has particular cause for gratitude to Fr Boyd. He welcomed Australian Chestertonians to the pages of the Review – such as Tony Evans, founder of the Australian Chesterton Society, and Gary Furnell – and invited others, such as Race Mathews, Peter Hunt and Karl Schmude, to contribute articles and serve on the Review’s Editorial Board.

Over many years, he reprinted articles from our Australian quarterly, The Defendant, a generous practice of sharing a local love of Chesterton with an international community, which has continued under Dermot Quinn’s editorship.

Fr Boyd visited Australia on two occasions – in 1990 when he met with various Chesterton Society members, and again in 2000, when he spoke at the conference that broadened the Chesterton Society of W.A. – founded by Tony Evans in 1993 – into a national Chesterton Society.

His Canadian roots undoubtedly fostered a sense of connection with Australia, sharing the same historical origins as his homeland. As he remarked on the Australian Chesterton Society’s 25th anniversary:

Having a chance to visit Australia gave me a better sense
of what membership in the commonwealth meant, but
more importantly it gave me an excellent example of what a
Chestertonian fellowship means.

The Defendant, Summer 2019