Officially announced Dec. 29, 2017, the Order of Canada was formally presented to Fr. John Emmett Walsh during a Feb. 1 ceremony at Rideau Hall. The diocesan priest of 52 years was among 35 recipients who received their insignia Friday morning as they were invested into the Order by Governor General Julie Payette.

“He displays a profound ability to forge ties and dialogue between faith communities,” the citation from the Governor General’s office reads. “A tireless supporter of various causes, he advocates for the homeless through the Nazareth Community and is the co-founder of the PROCURE Walk of Courage, which raises awareness of and funds for the fight against prostate cancer.”

Humbled by the experience, Fr. Walsh described it as awe-inspiring and leaving him in admiration of his fellow recipients:

“[As] I listen to the achievements of all who were presented before me, I wonder ‘What am I doing here?’ Only at the reception that followed did I hear other recipients ask the same question. It was consoling… [I was] so uplifted by the contributions of women and men in their concerns for their fellow human beings.”

Accompanied by his sister Marlene, two nephews and his niece, Fr. Walsh was grateful for his family, the love of his late parents, and the support received from friends and his home community of Montreal.

“What matters is the countless small deeds of unknown people, who lay the basis for the significant events that enter history,” reflects Fr. Walsh.