Aidan Oliver may only be seven, but already the boy from New Waterford, N.S. understands the importance of being an agent of peace. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Oliver

Youthful exuberance a sign of hope at New Waterford parish

  • January 29, 2016

NEW WATERFORD, N.S. - He has been called a ray of sunshine, a sign of hope and messenger of peace. But little Aidan Oliver says he just wants to make people happy.

At Sunday Mass each week at St. Leonard’s parish in New Waterford, N.S., the seven-yearold boy listens for Fr. Ray Huntley’s instruction to offer each other a sign of peace. Then the child bounds from his front-row pew to travel up and down the aisles shaking hands.

“Jesus said it Himself, it is the little children that obviously have a particular mission in the world,” said Huntley, smiling. “This is all the working of grace, the working of God. There will always be instruments and I’m sure that Aidan is one right now.”

For almost three years Aidan has darted about the church to offer a sign of peace to as many parishioners as possible during the 11 a.m. Mass. Sometimes he even gets them all.

“It is spreading joy and peace,” Aidan said. “That is everybody’s job.”

He can’t remember exactly why he started his own little peace project, but he certainly knows why he continues to do it.

“I keep doing it because I like it,” he said. “I do it because it feels good. It makes people happy.”

And according to his mother Cheryl Oliver, the idea was all her son’s.

“I don’t have to force him — he wants to do it,” said the mother of four. “He enjoys seeing all the people.”

Katherine Tighe, a 57-yearold parishioner, said the congregation has embraced the young messenger of peace.

“He brings a smile to everyone’s face when he comes around,” she said.

“We really noticed the one week that he wasn’t here.”

Parishioner Marguerite Pastuck seconded that sentiment, adding that the world needs more children like Aidan.

“We need more actions like this in the world because there is not enough of it,” she said. “Aidan is our little ray of sunshine. We look forward to that every single Sunday.”

She added that Aidan represents a sign of hope for the future of the Catholic Church in New Waterford, where five out of six parishes, including St. Michael’s parish where the Olivers originally worshipped, closed during a 2009 amalgamation that saw Mount Carmel parish become St. Leonard’s.

For Huntley, Aidan is a sign that the Oliver family truly understands their role in the formation of their children and the place of the church in a community.

“He’s been formed in a particular family that nurtures faith,” he said. “That is quite evident. His message to the community — and people love to see him — is that great message of peace.

“He is a great sign of hope, he and his family.”

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