The role of Mayor of Toronto holds a certain amount of prestige and recognition. However, in a lesser-known role is Lindsey, who holds the title of "Mayor" of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Pickering. This is a unique position, including special duties and responsibilities. This title was decreed by our pastor, Father Paul Dobson. He sees my daughter, Lindsey, not for her diagnosis of Down syndrome, but rather as a one-of-a-kind creation, made in the image and likeness of God, with talent to share with the congregation.
"Each person is created in God's image. Each one has a heart, a capacity to love and to be loved...Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person needs to be celebrated." - Jean Vanier, Becoming Human
Lindsey's duties in the parish include gift bearer, Catholic Register messenger, and greeter par excellence. She engages the hospitality ministers with cheerful conversation and a weekly hug. She then proceeds with reverence to our pew. In preparation for Mass, she prays, locates the opening hymn and distributes the Sunday missals to Mom and Dad. Her responses and singing is delivered with passionate joy. When it comes time for the prayers of the faithful, she unravels a list of people she has promised to pray for. After Mass, she seeks out the many parishioners with whom she has a special bond.
Lindsey gives hugs and compliments galore: "How are you John? What's new?" "You look amazing Sue!" "You are a very good reader Paul!" To Anthony our wonderful cantor: "You are an amazing singer." Her love fills parishioners with a tangible boost to their day. This positive experience of community is nurtured by the parishioners who follow the lead of our shepherd and pastor, Father Paul, and his pastoral team.
Father Paul ensures that there is no one left on the outside. Lindsey truly loves him, not for his title of Pastor, but for the welcome he shows to her. I have always loved the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, portraying Jesus overlooking the harbor with his arms outstretched in a gesture of welcome. It reminds me of the beauty of our Catholic faith, which teaches us that we are God's creation and loved unconditionally.
"The love of God is not generic. God looks with love upon every man and woman, calling each by name." - Pope Francis
Father Paul diligently cares for us, affirms the dignity of his parishioners and values Lindsey as a fellow pilgrim, working to do her duty of bringing joy as "Mayor" of St. Isaac Jogues.
"People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity." - Pope Francis
Dr. Ashley Molloy is an internationally recognized education specialist and speaker, who advocates for inclusion in education and work environments around the world. Before any of that, however, he is Lindsey's proud father.