For the Diocese of Bombay, July 23rd 2016, was an unusual Saturday as 20 lay leaders from across the diocese walked into Sarvodaya, Goregoan. It was the beginning of yet another batch of IMFE which began by invoking the Lord in our midst and an inaugural ceremony lead by the IMFE team. The core team of IMFE (Melwyn Sequiera, Adrain Rosario and Rohini D’Souza) ably led by Fr. Ancieto Periera welcomed each of us with warmth into the IMFE family and ensured that our stay and the weekend experience was memorable.

An oddly regular weekend whipped up to be a theologically enriching weekend with a deeper understanding on the universal church, diocesan church and local church. It brought out the importance and relevance of being connected and interlinked with the universal church. It stressed on the fact that we are actually a part of the main of body of Christ.

Though we had a lot of discussions and debates on the functioning of the church and the issues we face in today’s pastoral work as lay leaders, Faith in Christ and the church is the hub that still holds us together enriching us each day to work for His vineyard.

Leadership exists only if we have a team is famous saying and that was very well emphasized by Fr. Ancieto Pereira- Director of IMFE. Each of us are said to build and maintain a collegiality in our ministry which is an essential part of church leadership/ ministry.

Interacting with my 19 fellow batch mates over this weekend was an eye-opener and made me realize that we are not alone in serving our local church but just a drop in the big ocean of the universal church and all we need to do is bury our ego and pride and work in unity to build a stronger efficient and vibrant church in our diocese. We were also given immediate responsibilities to manage the liturgical services for the weekend which brought us to understand each other much better.

After all the gyan, discussions and debates came the master stroke- the assignments and practical projects! It was given to us on the first day evening last session which kind-off woke us up and told us that this was serious business and no fooling around. We ended the day with a community prayer.

The 2nd day was yet another theologically filled thought provoking day. We also met in our animator groups- an essential part of the course- as the animator and the group supports us in the journey of completing the course successfully. This group becomes your nuclear family in the large joint family of IMFE.

As in the words of my fellow participant who felt comforted to learn that we are working in accordance to the wisdom of Church teachings. And felt hopeful and challenged to make some contribution to strengthening our Church in the Archdiocese of Bombay by receiving relevant training.

The weekend concluded with a meaningful Eucharist celebration calling us to a ‘Boat partnership with Christ’ and with this amazing experience, 20 budding leaders for the Diocese of Bombay begin a journey together! All we need is your prayers to make this journey a success!