By Kaelanne Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
When La Petite Fleur Tea Shop opened its doors last March, its mission was to cater breakfast, brunch and afternoon tea with a serving of spirituality. Founded on strong Catholic roots, La Petite Fleur Tea Shop on 22 Murray Street, Woodbrook is an expression of faith, evangelisation and love.
Its owner, Bernadette Burke told Catholic News that establishing the tea shop was not only her dream but it was something for which she asked God. “One of the things I prayed for was a place for ministry and for that base to also be a tea shop to do His work as a server serving people where food is magic,” she said.
Burke, founder and director of Missionaries of Divine Potter—a lay missionary group acknowledged that every aspect of the shop is intentional. Its name is dedicated to Burke’s patron saint St Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Catholic nun known as ‘The Little Flower of Jesus’ or simply ‘The Little Flower’.
“So her presence is invoked here and when you read her teachings, a lot of it is about love. It is about preparing meals with love; it is about serving people in love and it’s about expressing the love of God in a simple way of having people have a meal and leave satisfied….”
The tea shop’s present setting features “old style architecture” of the old Woodbrook house that is not too large, modern nor clinical but still maintaining a “homey” atmosphere. “We try to maintain the inside with an open kitchen so that when people walk through the door they’re supposed to feel as though they’re home.”
The highlight of the tea shop—a sacred space reserved for the Blessed Sacrament is for diners and visitors to “replenish” their spirit.
A prayer journey
For Burke, the last seven months has been a “prayer journey”. It has also drawn her closer to God.
A typical day at La Petite Fleur begins and ends in prayer for Burke. “Every evening when I leave here, I go to church. I end the day going back to God asking Him for guidance.”
In hindsight, Burke, a parishioner of St Finbar’s RC believes that over the year God was preparing her for this endeavour. She shared that she pursued a cake- and pastry-making course as a hobby. She also has 25 years’ background in management and finance experience.
“All of that I see God using my past experience now and pulling out all the knowledge that I gained over the past years as well as my theological background in dealing with people one on one.”
While Burke is still maneuvering into new territory, she’s grateful for the support of staff and her daughters. Her eldest, Solange Renaud, is usually present at the shop, assisting in the day-to-day operations.
“…She felt that she needed to help me through this, all my children. It has helped to bring us closer. So when there’s a busy weekend schedule, everybody comes on board to help.” Presently, La Petite Fleur has two full time chefs, a kitchen assistant and server.
When asked how she applies her Catholic values and principles into her business, Burke acknowledged that the “challenge” is having non-Catholic staff and diners from all walks of life, including persons from the gay community. She revealed that while they too recognise a strong Catholic presence at the shop, everyone is welcomed.
“I really think that every person that comes through here comes for a reason….
You come have a meal, you’re served with love and you don’t need to feel intimidated….In all of it, Jesus is here, He’s at the centre of this place. I explain to staff we are not to show them any antagonism, or [say] ‘No they cannot come here’…Our faith teaches us that we have to love and show love to everyone through our actions and how we express ourselves….”
Back to ministry
Burke maintained that from January 2019 she will be revamping the ministry aspect by hosting free sessions on apologetics at the shop. Similar to the Catholic Women’s Conference, Burke mentioned that she would like to organise a women’s ministry. “That is still being discerned”.
For now, Burke is eager to begin hosting “good, wholesome” gatherings at the shop. “And I will just like to see that growth,” she commented on her vision.
“I’m at a place now where I’m seeing God moving in an awesome way…and in my heart I say it’s like a chef on a mission. I still have that missionary outlook on life…. I’m still out there giving talks, still working towards having the ministry more involved if it’s after hours, but in everything that we do, our work glorifies God and that’s where I’m at right now.”
Asked to give one piece of advice to someone starting a business, she replies “Put that dream in God’s hands and ask Him to guide you in your talents and skills.
See what God can do with it. How far He will take you,” she said.
La Petite Fleur Tea Shop is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sundays. Contact the shop at 228-6514.