John Armour 1929 -2012
Since 1974 John Armour has prepared these Scriptural Meditations which are read after Holy Communion each Sunday in our church.
Born in 1929 in an industrial area of Glasgow, Scotland, John was one of 5 children (3 others had died in infancy). From the age of 10 his schooling was disrupted by the Second World War, and his school education basically stopped when he reached the age of 12. As a young altar-boy John assisted at daily Mass, and served frequently at evening Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Poor in material goods he was richly blessed with good catholic parents, and nourished by the lives of the saints which he loved to read. His boyhood favourites were St. John Bosco, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Jean Vianney (the Curé d’Ars).
At the age of 16, after years employed in manual work, he decided to test his vocation to the priesthood. The subsequent 5 years in seminary contributed to his education and spiritual development, but not to an eventual call to the priesthood. Having returned to Glasgow he qualified as a Certified Accountant in 1957 at the age of 28. It seemed that the road ahead was now clear for a position as a professional accountant in Glasgow. But God had other plans.
Responding to an Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius X11, John volunteered to serve the Church as a lay-person in Africa, intending to stay for 2 years. In 1959 he was posted to Lesotho (at that time known as Basutoland). Serving in a small Catholic College for non-white students who were banned from higher education in South Africa, he also worked with the local uneducated Basuto population. Two particular initiatives were a club for over 500 boys, and a night-school for herd-boys. During his years in Lesotho he was a founding member of a new University created to serve the three countries of Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. In his last year in Lesotho he was active in preparing the local chiefs and functionaries for self-government.
In his personal life John had returned briefly to Scotland in 1960 to marry Maureen, who accompanied him back to Africa where their 3 children were born. They eventually left Lesotho in late1966 and came to Canada with their 3 children, then aged 5, 3 and 1. Since the beginning of 1967 Maureen and John have been active members of our Faith Family of St. Luke. His family now includes 5 grandchildren. John’s entire professional career in Canada was at McGill University where he was employed from 1966 until his retirement in 1995; at that time his final position was Vice-Principal Administration & Finance. Beyond his work at McGill, he ministered for years to drug addicts at a Rehabilitation Centre, and to the dying in the Palliative Care Service of the Royal Victoria Hospital. At St. Luke’s his many activities have included: contributing to retreats and spiritual development programs, RCIA, member of the Pastoral Team, Eucharistic Minister, cantor etc.
Returning to the subject of the Scriptural Meditations, John traces their origin to his involvement in the Charismatic Renewal Movement, which was introduced to St. Luke’s in 1974 by our then Pastor, Monsignor Mooney. John describes how through the renewed anointing of the Holy Spirit his prayer life was deepened, and he acquired a fresh love for God’s Word in Scripture. The Holy Spirit, he insists, is the source of any blessings derived from the Meditations.