By Rosanne Bowman LIMA — Timothy Mikesell received the Open Arms Award with, well, open arms. The 56-year-old parishioner of St. Rose Catholic Church got a phone call letting him know he had been nominated for the award. His older brother John Mikesell fielded the initial call, during which he answered a variety of questions about Timothy Mikesell's activities. “The lady, I think her name is Marsha, called from Toledo,” said Rosemarie Mikesell, Timothy Mikesell's mother. “I was sick that day, so my other son John answered the phone. She asked him some questions about what all Tim does at church. They called at the end of February, early March to let us know he had won the award.”The Open Arms Award was started 14 years ago. The first director of the Office of Equal Access Ministries, Kitty Kruse, came up with the idea of honoring those with physical and mental disabilities, and she also coined the name for the award. The Office of Equal Access Ministries advocates for Roman Catholics with disabilities in the Diocese of Toledo.“My office is a resource for parishes on ways to make their church buildings physically accessible and their communities accommodating to all people,” said Marsha Rivas, the current director of Equal Access Ministries. “This includes sign language interpreting for the deaf, special needs religious education, inclusion in Catholic schools and Braille printing and audio materials for people with vision loss.” According to Rivas the award is, “to recognize Catholics who live with significant disabilities who live out their baptismal call to serve the church.”Rivas said that the purpose is to thank the awardees for their service despite the difficulties that are inherent when serving with a significant handicap and to also make the Catholic community aware of the gifts that people with disabilities bring to the church. Nominees are solicited from the 126 parishes within the Diocese of Toledo. According to Rivas, if there are more than six nominees the Equal Access Ministries Advisory Council helps her to select the honorees. The number of those given the award varies each year, but no more than six awards are handed out. The Rev. David Ross of St. Rose Catholic Church nominated Timothy Mikesell. “Tim is the quintessential example of gospel service. He seeks out ways to help people not only in church, but around his neighborhood as well. When the parishes were asked to offer nominations, Tim immediately came to mind,” Ross said.Timothy Mikesell is mentally handicapped, but this disability does not stop him from serving in his community. Besides always looking for ways to help neighbors by carrying groceries or visiting with people who are sick, he also volunteers in the St. Rose School cafeteria when he is on vacation from his job. He works at Better Brake Parts, where he assembles kits that the company then sells to other automotive companies. Timothy Mikesell has also been serving Mass for almost 15 years. “I bring out the wine,” explained Timothy Mikesell. “The other guy brings out the host — you know, the bread. I have to wear a suit.”The awards were handed out at a 9:30 a.m. Mass on March 18 at Our Lady of Mount Caramel in Bono, just east of Toledo. Each recipient received an engraved wooden plaque that included his or her name, the date and the name of the award. Timothy Mikesell and his mother, as well as his two brothers, their wives and children made the drive to see him receive the award. “We had to get up at 5 a.m. in order to make it,” said Rosemarie Mikesell. “If it was later, I think more people could have come.”Four other people from various parishes within the Toledo Diocese also received the award. Each was called up individually and presented the award by the Bishop Leonard Blair.“I wasn't nervous,” said Timothy Mikesell. “I was really excited. I hugged the Bishop.”Timothy Mikesell is the first parishioner at St. Rose Catholic Church to receive the award. “This was all new to us,” said Rosemarie Mikesell. “We thought it was just one person until we got there and realized there were several more getting the award, too.”Ross feels that the award, which according to Rivas is unique to the Toledo Diocese, is important. “I think we need to recognize people for their service and that only helps build up the body of Christ. It encourages others to contribute their time and talents, as well,” Ross said.Rosemarie Mikesell was happy for her son to receive the award. “I was thrilled for him,” she explained. “He loves anything to do with the church. He eats, breathes and sleeps the church, so this was so exciting for him.”If you have a story idea or an item you feel the community would like to know about for the Religion section, please contact Rosanne Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-516-6149.
Local resident receives Open Arms Award