Valleyview parish hosts an evening to celebrate local author and Catholic education
Len Mac Lennan sat by the fireplace set-up and recited a succession of poems and short prose, reminiscing on past memories, on friends and family, on the stories he’s lived, and the stories that have been passed onto him.
Mixed in with each anecdote was an introspective and reflective look at the underlying meaning of life, revealed even in its most ordinary moments. One such poem reflected on a forgotten Valentine’s Day gift, that ended up revealing that the greatest gift of all is the daily sacrifices we make for loved ones.
For Len, his love of writing primarily comes from its powers to help him delve into his inner life, to better understand and express himself.
“I do not consider myself a great writer; I write because it’s my most effective and powerful way to get in touch with my inner self,” he said.
These stories were the key attraction of the inaugural “Evening of GrACE” at St. Rita’s Church in Valleyview, held on Dec. 9th. Alongside Len’s stories, the event was also a fundraiser in support of Catholic education and for the parish hall, which was built in 2015. As a local Catholic school teacher and parishioner at St. Rita’s, all money raised through Len’s books were donated for the parish hall.
Len’s books – God Will Provide and Companions on a Journey – were published in 2020 and 2021. But due to the continuing on-again, off-again restrictions around the pandemic, the parish was not able to organize a public reading event at that time. In hopes of both giving Len the chance to publicly share his talent for the written word and fundraise, this event was prepared.
“We’ve been looking for ways to fundraise for the hall for a long time,” event organizer and Catholic school trustee J.M. Pozniak said. “Len had these collections of stories and poems and he decided himself to publish these books and donate 100% of the contributions to the hall to help pay it off.
“We’re truly blessed to have him in our school and in our communities. So we wanted an evening where he could read from his books, make us laugh, cry and everything in between.”
“I love this parish and the people in it, so I published these small books to help pay off this space here,” Len himself added. “They have supported its publication and I appreciate that.”
Family and friends, St. Rita’s parishioners and other Valleyview locals made it down for the occasion to hear Len’s words. He shared poems on the spirit of Christmas, memories of his great grandmother and great aunt Bessie who always had a cup of tea at the ready, and poems about his children – like his eldest daughter’s excitement at her first sleigh ride.
There were also many historical aspects to Len’s poems – such as a poem on families who struggled through the Great Depression on both the Canadian prairies and in his homeland of the Maritimes, and poems on local history in Valleyview. People in the room were visibly moved by the poem on a local Valleyview elderly woman who froze to death during a cold winter night.
“That story hit close to home, just about everybody in the hall recognized that event,” Pozniak recalled. “That was a blow to the community. It was a very unfortunate event. She went out from a friend’s home and didn’t make it back.
“Those local stories a lot of us in the room really connected with.”
This is only an excerpt. Read the full story in the January-February 2023 edition of Northern Light