Whilst frantic shoppers have been stockpiling food and toilet rolls on their visits to the supermarket, one Perth clergyman realised that there are people across the nation with a very different kind of hunger. The Reverend Len Moir, a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Dunkeld, has just published a short book, ‘Prayer in times of hardship’ offering support to those who have found these recent days a struggle.
Deacon Moir said, “Either on our daily exercise, or in the isolation of their own homes, most people have had much more time for thinking in these past few weeks; thinking about friends and family, about the wider world and about how the future will look. Covid19 has spread not only physical pain but mental and spiritual anguish too.”
“For many, the places where they would normal worship, or perhaps pop in to say a prayer, are currently closed; for those with no church connections, it may they are searching for a deeper understanding.”
He added, “We will each have a unique take on these dreadful events whether we have a faith or not. In our humanity we may feel a need to wonder how others are coping. This basic need and concern is a part of our human condition.”
A son of the manse, Len was born in Aberdeen but, with his father’s appointment to St Leonard-in-the-Fields in Perth, the family moved to the Fair City during World War II. The Reverend W. Neill Moir served as a minister at St Leonard’s for almost thirty years (1942-69). Len returned to Aberdeen to study Psychology, English and Law before entering teaching, working in primary education in Dundee for 40 years. For many years he was headteacher at Whitfield Primary School in the city before being appointed as an Advisor in Primary Education.
Following the great witness of his wife, Josephine, he was received into the Catholic Church at St Bride’s, Monifieth, by Canon Romero Coia. After the death of his wife, and his retirement from teaching, Len undertook a period of training and was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2014 – a role that allows him to assist the priest, and to preach the Word and to conduct services like baptisms, weddings and funerals.
It was while working in the parish of St John the Baptist’s, Perth, that Len developed a popular series of Faith Sharing pamphlets for use with house groups and in school communities. His love of scripture is rooted in his early days in the services conducted by his father, and also from his time in the Boy’s Brigade. Now, as a deacon in the Catholic Church, he is continuing his learning, primarily in Ignatian Spirituality, and he has completed all the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, at St Beuno’s College, in North Wales.
Launching his book via Zoom, (Friday 1st May) he reflected, “The current Covid19 lockdown is teaching us all a lot about ourselves. We are restricted in our movements and our contact with others. We should not forget that these conditions are already most familiar to those in our communities who are sick or housebound.”
“We have also seen many heroic acts of support shown by friends and neighbours and indeed by the NHS workers, care home workers and all who have continued to provide the important services which are necessary at this time.”
As a mountaineer and a long-distance runner, Len is all too aware of the impact that the current restrictions are having on people’s lives. Over the years, as a mountaineer, he has bagged all Scotland’s Munros, as well as running several marathons along the way. In normal times he likes to continue walking and meets regularly with friends that he has known since school. As a keen musician, Len is a long serving member of the Dundee Cecilian Choir with whom he has taken part in many music tours. He sorely misses all of these activities together with his regular visits to the sick and housebound.
It was the success of the support materials that he wrote for parish house groups, and for teams of teachers, that led to the production ‘Prayer at times of hardship’. The 32-page publication takes a straightforward and very practical look at the practise of personal prayer. Len’s book, price £5, is available for online ordering at www.dunkelddiocese.co.uk/shop or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org / or call 07806 789791. While the churches are closed – you may wish to arrange a convenient collection point – otherwise please allow an extra £1.50 for post and packing.