Greg Rogers welcomed by a Masai community in Kenya during a mission in 2014. Photo courtesy of Greg Rogers

York University professor earns Medal of Honour for building Catholic leaders

  • October 27, 2017
It was an unexpected surprise when Greg Rogers learned he would be receiving the Fr. Patrick Fogarty Medal of Honour for 2017.

The Medal of Honour is awarded to an individual who has made a difference as a leader within Catholic education in Ontario.

This year it is Greg Rogers, a course director and professor for York University’s Catholic stream. He will be honoured at the 34th annual Fr. Patrick Fogarty Awards Dinner in Toronto on Oct. 28, along with winners of the outstanding students awards from across the province.

Rogers has been an advocate for leadership and social justice throughout his career, organizing both retreats at home and teaching opportunities for students in the Third World.

“He is such a profound influence on everyone he meets,” said Mary-Eileen Donovan, a former superintendent with the Toronto Catholic Board and one of Rogers’ co-workers.

Donovan nominated Rogers for the Medal of Honour. “He’s one of those rare people that you meet and can immediately build a relationship with because he’s a person of such integrity. He is supportive and empowering.”

Rogers used to teach at Brebeuf College in Toronto, where Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Me to We, was his student.

“Marc used to play rugby for me. We’re both active in the Catholic social justice community and have stayed friends over the years,” said Rogers.

“Greg had a huge impact on me and hundreds of other students,” Kielburger told The Register. “He’s funny, kind, generous and gracious. He’s an incredible leader who taught me about positive leadership. He always led by example and espoused Catholic values through his dedication to leadership service and commitment to helping others.”

Rogers is on the board of directors for When Faith Meets Pedagogy, a faith through learning initiative by the Catholic Curriculum Corporation.

His work at York University focuses on student involvement in Catholic leadership through the organization retreats such as Camp Olympia, where students and teachers live together for three days, building leadership skills through outdoor activities like high ropes and canoeing. He has also been instrumental in the organization of the L’Arche Daybreak retreat in Richmond Hill.

“He was instrumental in planning (L’Arche founder) Jean Vanier’s part in both World Youth Day in 2002 and at L’Arche Daybreak,” said Donovan. Rogers also plans an annual retreat for teachers with Vanier in France.

Passion and commitment to social justice is what motivates Rogers, who has been teaching in schools across Africa since 1976. Every April, he brings students from York on a mission trip to Tanzania. The students teach at a school run by the Spiritan Fathers in the mornings and help to build houses in the afternoon.

“For over 20 years he’s brought students to the developing world to learn, serve and take action,” said Donovan. “It’s a transformational experience that truly makes these students reassess their values. Many students have been inspired to go into international development after going on the trip.”

For Rogers, family comes first. But his students are a close second.

“My life’s vocation is Catholic student leadership,” said Rogers. “If receiving this honour can, in any way, help me do more and go farther with Catholic student leadership in our schools and our community, then that is just wonderful.”

The Fogarty Awards are named in honour of the priest who was a long-time champion of Catholic education. He served as executive director of the Federation of Catholic Education Associations of Ontario for 19 years, as well as being an advocate for equitable government support of Catholic schools. He died in 1985.

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