By Martha Holmen
The prayers of a grateful church were offered at St. James Cathedral on July 8 in celebration of the life of Canon Dr. Robert Falby, chancellor emeritus of the Diocese of Toronto. Canon Falby died peacefully in his home on June 8.
A parishioner and lay canon of the Cathedral, Canon Falby was active in the church locally, nationally and internationally. He served as chancellor of the diocese for 22 years, advising two diocesan bishops – Archbishop Terence Finlay and Archbishop Colin Johnson – on matters of canon law.
He also served the Anglican Church of Canada as deputy prolocutor and then prolocutor, the senior lay officer of General Synod, and consulted on many issues facing the global Anglican Communion.
Primate Fred Hiltz, who preached at the memorial service, recalled Canon Falby’s unfailingly wise advice. “I was so grateful to have Robert at my side,” he said in his sermon. “Clarity and charity were the hallmarks of his counsel to the Primate, the Synod and the Council of General Synod. It always moved us forward in good ways.”
Archbishop Hiltz also spoke of Canon Falby as a deeply loving man devoted to his wife, children and grandchildren. “Robert loved much, and he was much loved,” he said.
Archbishop Colin Johnson, who presided at the service, said he thought it was a magnificent tribute to Canon Falby’s life. “It said everything that Bob was: a man of deep faith, a man who loved music, loved people and loved the church, and that’s what the service actually represented,” he said.
Archbishop Johnson also noted the suitability of the music used throughout the service. “Each of the hymns was extraordinarily appropriate for him, and the last motet, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth,’ summed up both his faith and our faith,” he said, referring to a sung rendition of Revelation 21:1-4.
In addition to Canon Falby’s family, the service was attended by current and former bishops; the chancellors of the diocese, the national church and the U.S. Episcopal Church; diocesan and national church staff; and clergy and lay people from the diocese and beyond.
Those who wish to remember Canon Falby with a financial thanksgiving can donate to the Robert Falby Endowment for Aboriginal Ministry.