Two Toronto Anglican canons, one clergy, one lay, became honorary doctors of divinity on the May 14. The Rev. Canon Mary Alice Bielesch Medcof and Canon Robert L. Falby, QC, received these honours at the 2013 convocation of the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, University of Toronto.
Presented to the convocation by the Rev. Margaret Rodrigues and hooded by the Rev. Margaret Fleck, Canon Medcof was, in1983, the first woman to be appointed rector of an Anglican church in the greater Toronto area.
Raised a Roman Catholic in a conservative eastern European community, Medcof took her first degree in applied mathematics in the bold new field of information technology. After being ordained an Anglican priest at Trinity in 1979, she devoted herself to the pursuit of justice in matters of gender, sexuality and ethnicity.
“Being brought up in a ghetto in her early years gave Alice a sense of what it means to be ‘other’ than the prevailing culture,” Rodrigues noted in her introduction. “This inspired Alice’s lifetime commitment to working on international understanding between nationalities, cultures, races, religions, men and women.”
In 1996, Medcof became a founding member of the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) and today serves as Canada’s executive representative on its eight-woman international steering committee.
“Alice has worked for many years at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, leading the Canadian IAWN group and participating in deliberations related to the abolition of all forms of violence against women and girls,” said Rodrigues, associate priest at St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Etobicoke, Ont. “Through the IAWN, she has brought the concerns of women to the attention of the Anglican Communion and its Consultative Council.”
Canon Falby, a lawyer with the Toronto office of Miller Thomson, is prolocutor of the Anglican Church of Canada. (The prolocutor is an executive officer of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.) For the past 20 years, he has served as chancellor for the Anglican diocese of Toronto, providing legal counsel to the archbishop. He has fulfilled numerous other offices and chaired unique initiatives at the Cathedral Church of St. James.
He was presented by the Most Rev. Colin Johnson, archbishop of Toronto, and hooded by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“Bob Falby has been number one on my speed dial for 20 years,” said Archbishop Johnson. “He not only generously gives legal advice, warns of liabilities, safeguards the trusts but, more importantly, he creates the paths to enable people to reach their desired outcomes…Individual clergy and lay leaders, parishes, diocesan structures, the national and international church have benefited from his wisdom, dedication and, yes, his compassion.”
Installed as lay canon of the cathedral in 2002, Falby received the Anglican Award of Merit in 2004, and was one of only eight people from around the world invited to identify and codify the general principles of the canons and canonical structures of the provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion.