The Chilean government has recognized Utah native Thomas E. Lyons with the highest honor the country gives to a foreigner.

Lyons was honored with the Bernardo O’Higgins award by Mariano Fernandez, Chile’s secretary of state, on Feb. 8. Lyons currently serves as the president of the LDS temple in Santiago.  Lyons was given the honorary rank of “Comendador,” which translates as “Knight commander.”  The award was given in recognition of Lyons’ eight years of church service in Chile.

Lyons met Fernandez years ago when Fernandez served as Chile’s ambassador to the U.S. Lyons, who previously served as the honorary consul of Chile in Utah from 2005 to 2007, hosted Fernandez and his wife for their two-day visit to Utah, which included meetings with the governor and the First Presidency, along with visits to Welfare Square and BYU.

Lyons expressed gratitude for the recognition.

“I view this as an honor for the church,” Lyons said in an e-mail.  “It has been a privilege to serve to Chile and we will keep on serving, because one comes to love those he serves.”

The award is named for O’Higgins, who is considered one of Chile’s founding fathers. He helped the country achieve its independence in the 1800s.

(Mormon Times, Sunday, Feb 21, 2010)