LAY MISSIONARY MOVEMENT
Bishop Lourdes Daniel has begun the lay faithful ministers which are called Lay missionaries. The diocese has been spread in five districts which are far and wide. Earlier we had Catechists helping the Priests for the formation of the Lay people. Every parish in our diocese has been surrounded by many mass centres in the villages where the priest was and is able to reach only on few occasions in a month and so the Catechists were the contact persons and mediators between the villages and the priest. Now our bishop has begun this lay missionary movement. In the movement there are lay faithful who are ready to render their service for the spiritual and religious activities of the Parish. These lay people are ready to render their voluntary services for the growth of the church in the diocese. Bishop has formed this group in various parishes and are regularly provided spiritual formation. Knowing the need bishop has organized various spiritual programmes for their formation. For example – Bible seminars, Leadership training, Retreats and so on. Following are some of the activities which will highlight the on- going formation of the lay missionaries and lay faithful.
Bible Seminar (Nashik) – This was conducted for last two years. Rev. Fr. Philip Vaz (Priest of Vasai Diocese) who is expert in the scripture studies was requested to conduct seminars on Bible and the leadership. Every month one week seminar was conducted for these lay missionaries. There were more than 35 participants present for every seminar. This has been very helpful to the Church in our diocese. Many lay missionaries have taken keen interest in this seminar and have learnt a lot about scripture which they use for their ministry in our diocese.
Lay missionaries retreat: 28 to 31 March 2014 at Kedgaon, Ahmednagar. A person without the spiritual strength will be of no use in the Church ministry. So our bishop organized four days retreat for the lay missionaries in a centre called Don Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra. The lay missionaries were full time available for this retreat and they were given spiritual food for their growth and formation. Around 50 lay missionaries participated in this retreat. They were from many parishes of our diocese. We have seen and experienced that it has helped them in the ministry of the Church. Many of them are very helpful in the various ministry of the Church. Our Bishop has installed them to be the ministers in visiting the sick and the old to pray for them and also to give them Holy Communion. They also participate in various activities conducted by the diocese such as prison ministry visiting the people in the Jail and comforting and consoling them in their sorrows and loneliness. Catechism Children’s education in Sunday School and helping in the various educational activities of the diocese.
Bible Classes (Ahmednagar) – Fr. John Misquitta a scripture expert conducted once a month bible classes for the lay missionaries and also lay faithful. There are people who cannot come for the full time scripture classes for such people Bible classes were conducted only on holidays and Sunday. There are many people who long to hear the word of God and learn about the God’s love for the human being. But due to lack of time and their daily routine and family responsibility they were not able to attend the full time classes. So they were given opportunity by the diocese to attend the classes in their free time.
All these activities are meant to empower and encourage the lay faithful to come closer to the Church and become partners in spreading the Gospel values. We have realized that there is great interest in the lay faithful to support the Church and become the light to the society. There are many lay people who are ready to render their service to the Church, they are very faithful, religious and spiritual. Knowing the situation and the need of the diocese our Bishop with a great vision has begun this movement and we now experience the fruit of this organization called lay missionaries. We continue to organize various training programmes for the holistic growth of our diocese and the lay faithful.