Who could be spotted last weekend, among the shops of garments, disposable diapers, and organic chips for babies at the Parents and Kids Fair in Place Bonaventure? The Catholic Church of Montreal booth, and its diocesan team!
“People wonder, but they don’t ask… We only need to smile and be welcoming, and they open up to us,” said compassionate Johanne Egglefield, the assistant of the Office for Faith Education.
The Church was there for three days, from April 5 to 7, among the merchants, to be simply present, to offer its presence to parents and to their children.
Many stopped and asked questions on Baptism, on First Communion, namely godfathers and godmothers, and on Catechism. Johanne, Claude, Ellen, Louise, Lucie, Katerine, Francis, Normand, Claudia, Emiliana, answered their questions during these three days.
They left the stand with answers, brochures and most importantly smiling, while pushing strollers filled with goods, gifts, samples and balloons. Those who did not stop would, however, take a rosary. Archbishop Lépine, who came to visit on Sunday, had brought two boxes of them!
Little Hearts Playgroup
On Saturday and Sunday, the Salon was filled with families whose children had the chance to see the play La P’tite Pasto.
Little Hearts Playgroup, an English version of the faith awakening program La P’tite Pasto, was created 18 years ago by a collective of parents led by Christiane Boulva, of the Saint-André-Apôtre parish of Montreal. Little Hearts Playgroup is an activity supported by the Office for Faith Education at the diocese and is meant to bring together parents and their preschoolers. Children are gently introduced to God’s presence and Christian values through playing, singing, creative work, and to discover the beauties of family, nature and friendship, in a language suited for their age and a spirit of fun!
At the Salon, Mireille, Yves, Christiane, Louise and Michelle invited children to make small tablemats. Michelle, who followed that path, asked 6 years-old Arielle and Ariane from Longueuil if they liked the fruits and vegetables made out of paper, that were being applied on a sheet. They replied by smiling and Michelle told them: “God had a very good idea when he gave us all these wonderful things to eat. He created all of this so that we could eat and grow up. God would like us to grow them all.” Taken aback, the girls asked how they could help God. “By not throwing away the apples, carrots, raisins (…), but by taking care of them and sharing them,” said Michelle as a suggestion.
In the meantime, Christiane started a conversation with their mother: they talked about how faith and Christian values can be transmitted and enliven in children. Because of the do-it-yourself down time with La P’tite Pasto, the facilitators could tackle subjects such as the environment from a Christian angle. Parents and children were happy to have religion explained to them in a very simple way!
Many tablemats were done by children over the day. They went back home proud and happy about what they had created.
During those moments of sharing and listening, the Catholic Church of Montreal shows the welcoming side of a Church on the go that is close to people and in sync with its time.