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New medallion honours ‘real heroes’

Order of the Diocese of Toronto

By Stuart Mann

The Diocese has created a special medallion, called the Order of the Diocese of Toronto, to honour outstanding lay people in the church.

“It’s a way of recognizing the significant contributions of lay people who have made an incredible difference in the life of the church and in the lives of people in their communities,” says Archbishop Colin Johnson. “They’re the real heroes of the church—maybe not quite saints, but saints in the making.”

The medallion and a pin will be given to about 60 people annually. Four or five deaneries across the Diocese will be selected each year, and all the parishes in those deaneries will be able to nominate one person per parish.

To nominate a person for the award, the parish will need to provide a citation, describing the person’s contributions to the church or the community. The citations will be kept in a special book in the Diocese’s archives, providing a unique record of the work of lay people in the Diocese.

Archbishop Johnson says the award will be given to a wide range of people, “from faithful volunteers who have done a multitude of things to a person who just did a single thing well for a long time.”

The Order of the Diocese of Toronto will replace the Bishop’s Award of Merit, which also honoured the work of lay people but had a complex nomination process, leading to too few recipients. “This will be a simpler process, to honour people for what they do in their daily lives,” he says.

The medallion is comprised of a white dove encircled by a gold disc with blue piping. In the centre is the diocese’s coat of arms and the words, “Their light shines, their works glorify.” The award was designed by the Rev. Steven Mackison, the incumbent of St. John the Baptist, Dixie, Mississauga, and the graphic designer was Joyce Cosby.

Archbishop Johnson says the Order arises out of the Baptismal Covenant. “I think it’s important to recognize that these ministries, large and small, come out of our baptismal commitments to live as Christ has called us to live. I also think that thanks-giving and gratitude are essential Christian characteristics. We need to give thanks for the many gifts that God has given us as we serve one another.”