The Parents and Kids Fair was held last weekend at Place Bonaventure, and the Church of Montreal's kiosk was in plain sight, thanks to the hard-working employees of the diocesan Office de la Famille.
Why the Church's presence at this fair? "Well, that's it! It's for the Presence!" declared Serge Vallée, the director of the Office de la Famille for the french community. "If Jesus were with us today, and he knew of a place filled with fathers, mothers, and children, that's where he would be!"
"It's important to be present to answer questions," added Sylvie Vallée, Serge's wife and assistant director of the Office. "People have questions, especially about Baptism and catechesis. We are here to answer them."
"We tell them that Baptism is not God making their child one of His own, for their child already is one of God's children; but rather Baptism is the parents acknowledging God as the father of their child," said Serge. "When they hear this, we see that it resounds in their hearts. What we are doing here is evangelizing. We are blessed with this opportunity. We have nothing to sell, but everything to give. As the banner on our kiosk says, we are here to nourish your child's heart," he concluded, full of enthusiasm.
Just before the Vallées arrived, a young married couple - Norman Lévesque, director of the Green Church Program at the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, and Marie-Audray Roy, the person responsible for pastoral work at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours Chapel - was taking care of the kiosk. Thirteen weeks pregnant, the radiant young mother-to-be was answering people's questions, while showing them the literature provided by the Office, including the very popular, The Dice of Love.
A charming bouquet of flowers adorned one of the tables at the kiosk. Where did they come from? "The fair's founding president, Louise Benoît, gave them to us," answered Sylvie Vallée, with a smile on her lips. "They arrived Thursday morning with a beautiful card expressing condolences for the death of Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte. We placed a note pad right next to the flowers, as many passersby wished to write a few words or a prayer for him. It was very touching."
Even at a big fair, where there is a lot of buying and selling, there is always room for talking about what is true and beautiful, and for "nourishing the hearts" of all children, big and small.