CURSILLO MOVEMENT: WHAT IS IT?
explain Cursillo to someone who has never experienced Cursillo is at best,
difficult. Often, for those who have experienced Cursillo it is
still somewhat mystifying. This is not because the Cursillo Movement
is a "secret" organization. The reason behind the mystery
is God. No one can fully explain how God touches each person in His
special/unique way throughout the various elements of the Cursillo
Evangelization is probably the one that comes to mind first. For many years Catholics looked upon evangelization as "something the Protestants did." Today, in Church, we hear a great deal about evangelization. Still for some of us, we automatically think of going out two-by two (with Bible in hand) and knocking on people's doors. Nothing could be further from the truth.
the Cursillo Movement, we approach evangelization as a very natural act of
being Christlike within each of our daily activities. We realize
that while most people would like to live their lives in a Christ-like
manner, the pressures of the world often make this difficult. The
Cursillo Movement provides a method and a technique to provide each of us
with the tools, the mentality, the strength, and the support to make this
natural type of evangelization possible.
we will have other statements that are basically the same as
evangelization. Statements such as: 1) proclaiming the Gospel, 2)
fulfilling our Baptismal responsibility (some of us were not even aware
that our Baptismal responsibility required us to do something), 3)
leavening the environments, and 4) living what is fundamental for being a
Christian. We should not allow these statements to scare us off.
These are nothing more than by-products of living our lives in a fully
The Cursillo Movement can assist each of us in developing a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully Catholic by being fully Christian.
HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT
Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Catholic Church. The name
Cursillo is Spanish, meaning short course, and is often associated with a
3-Day weekend - which is only one aspect of the Cursillo Movement. The
proper name is Cursillo de Cristiandad (short course of Christianity).
There is much more to the Cursillo Movement than just a 3-Day weekend.
Movement evolved from Spain,
where it got its origin, in the 1940s. The Cursillo Movement did not
develop by accident. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves
to bringing the young men of their city of Mallorca, Spain,
to know Christ better. It developed as they prayed and worked
together; it developed as they talked together, sharing their thoughts about
the state of the world and the effectiveness of their efforts to bring the
light of Christ to it. On the natural level alone, the story of the
Cursillo Movement is exciting. It's a story filled with the adventure
of new discoveries and works of outstanding dedication, tragic
misunderstandings and setbacks, as well as impressive patience. These
young men and the clergy who supported them endured many unpromising
situations in the faith that God would work.
it is even more an exciting story on the spiritual level. It is the
story of how God taught a group of men how to work for Him in an effective
way, a way that bears fruit. In the late 1940s, the first Cursillo was
given and the Cursillo Movement began. Those who make Cursillo's today
would find much of the first Cursillo familiar. The Cursillo has been
refined and changed somewhat, but today's Cursillo weekend remains basically
the same as those first Cursillo's.
was, however, no accident that the first Cursillo was so fully formed that a
movement could begin from that date. The first Cursillo was neither a
lucky accident nor a blueprint which came directly from heaven, but grew out
of a process of development. Nor were the first leaders just a chance
collection of men. They had been working together for some time trying
to bring men to Christ so they could work together to Christianize the
the Cursillo, on the other hand, was not just a well worked out human
product. It grew in the climate of spiritual renewal. It was
developed by men of prayer who were seeking to serve the Lord. It was
formed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit working in men who had
dedicated themselves to bringing others to a knowledge of Christ.
Cursillo Movement came to birth in the movements of renewal that preceded
the second Vatican Council. Vatican II was such a major event in the
history of the modern Catholic Church that there is a certain tendency to
date everything from the Council. But Vatican II was itself born out
of an effort of spiritual and pastoral renewal that had begun years before.
The liturgical movement, the scriptural renewal, Catholic Action and other
movements of the lay apostolate had begun years before the Council.
Everywhere in the Church, people were seeking to find ways of "bringing
the Church to life in the hearts of men" (Romano Guardini). The
Cursillo Movement came from the work of such individuals.
first stirrings of what later was to become the Cursillo Movement began on
pilgrimage set a tone. The spirit of pilgrimage is a spirit of
restlessness, of dissatisfaction with spiritual lukewarmness, of moving
onward, of "ultreya." It is also a spirit of brotherhood
among fellow pilgrims who are striving together to reach the goal of a life
fully given to the love of God and man. The pilgrim style has marked
much of the spirituality of the Cursillo Movement.
for the pilgrimage gave rise to efforts of renewal in the different Catholic
Action groups in Spain, among them the branch for young men in the diocese of
Majorca. As a result of the preparations for the pilgrimage there was greater
interest in finding an effective way to work apostolically. The groups
responsible for preparations for the pilgrimage to St. James were the
diocesan councils for the young men's branch of Catholic Action.
Catholic Action was the official organization of the lay apostolate in
worked as a leaders' team that prayed together, shared their Christian lives
together, studied together, planned together, acted together and evaluated
what they had done together. Together they worked at the task of
forming Christian life among the young people in Majorca. Out of their common efforts, something new in the life of the Church
was born. Church renewal, spiritual renewal, pastoral renewal, the
pilgrim style, a pastoral plan, teamwork among leaders - the Cursillo
Movement grew out of all these things. It developed not by accident
nor through a clearly specified plan, but was an organic development of the
efforts of a group of men who had dedicated themselves to the work of God.
first, the Cursillo's were just "little courses" (little course is
the literal meaning of the Spanish word - Cursillo) which were given by the
diocesan council of the young men's branch of Catholic Action. They
were given to members of Catholic Action groups as a way of forming them so
they could become effective apostles.
first Cursillo in the United States was held in Waco,
Texas, in 1957. The key figures in the beginning were Father Gabriel
Fernandez and two airmen from
Vadell and Palomino were transferred to Mission, Texas,
just after they had completed the second weekend in
1959, the Cursillo spread throughout Texas and to Phoenix,
1961, all weekends were held in Spanish. That year the first
English-speaking weekend was held in San Angelo,
1962, the Cursillo Movement came to the Eastern United States.
Weekends were held in
movement spread rapidly with the early centers carrying the Cursillo to
nearby dioceses. As of 1981, almost all of the 160 dioceses in the
Cursillo Movement in the United States
was organized on a national basis in 1965. At this meeting a National
Secretariat was organized, and a National Cursillo Office (currently in
Cursillo Movement has the support of the vast majority of the American
hierarchy. It is joined to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops
through an official liaison in the person of Most Rev. James S. Sullivan,
Bishop of Fargo, and through the Bishops' Secretariat for the Laity in
it is a worldwide movement with centers in nearly all South and Central
American countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto
Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia,
Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several
African countries. The movement is a member of the International
Catholic Organizations of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome.
In 1980, the Cursillo Movement established an international
office, the OMCC (Organismo Mundial de Cursillo's de Cristiandad), in Santo
Domingo to coordinate the three existing international working groups of
Latin America, Europe and the International English Language Group.
The international leaders of the movement meet periodically to further its
one of these meetings in Rome in 1966, Pope Paul VI had the opportunity to
address the movement. Among his words of encouragement were the
de Cristiandad, that is the word, purified through experience, affirmed by
its fruits, that today travels with citizenship papers throughout the
some methods become obsolete, whether new manifestations of the Spirit
arise, the permanent task of the layman will continue to be the infusion of
Christianity into life through the encounter and personal friendship with
God and in communion with his brothers. The layman, upon forming
himself in Christianity, reforms his mentality and conforms his life to
Christ's image by means of faith, hope and charity; acting with complete
responsibility he transforms the temporal structures in which he is
immersed, guided in his action by the glance of Christ he continually tries
to remake the world according to God's plan and design...."
know that in your plan of spirituality and apostolate in the Cursillo
Movement the 'Sensus Ecclesiae' (mind of the Church) is the guiding light
that orients you...."
sons and daughters: Our soul is so oppressed by the vision of the evils
which afflict the Church and mankind. But permit us to express our
overwhelming joy that, at this moment, floods our soul before the immense
chorus of your manly faith in Christ, your fidelity to the Church, your
fervent loyalty to this Chair of Peter and to the ministry of the episcopal
de Cristiandad! Christ, the Church, the Pope, are counting on you!"
1980, Pope John Paul II, addressing the first
National Italian Ultreya in Rome said,
movement, which recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, devotes
itself to drawing forth from Christians a commitment to live lives
consistent with their faith whether individually or as a community - and to
bring this ferment to the environments where you live."
have discovered anew the explosive truth of the evangelical message: God,
Father of all, comes to us as we encounter him in Jesus Christ to reunite us
through the grace of the Spirit in one family which is the Church."
her, we are truly able to experience even now the love which will be the
inexhaustible fountain of eternal joy in heaven. Here then is the
synthesis of all of Christianity. This is the news that all human
hearts hope for without realizing it. Therefore dedicate yourselves
more and more to being tireless apostles in your environments."
apostolic blessing goes with you as a pledge of this divine grace which
enables you to live forever."
IS THE CURSILLO MOVEMENT?
literature cites several different definitions for the purpose of the
Cursillo Movement. While the wording (definitions) may vary, the idea
is the same. This is due, in part, to the fact that the purpose of
Cursillo is multi faceted. No one definition can truly explain what
Cursillo is. However, all the definitions can give a much richer
meaning to the purpose of Cursillo.
One definition states: "The purpose (or goal) of the Movement is to
make Christian community possible in neighborhoods, parishes, work
situations and other places where people live the greater part of their
lives. It makes possible for anyone in the world to live a Christian life in
a natural way."
definition lists the purpose of the Cursillo Movement as: "The
leavening of environments with the Gospel." In other words,
changing the places we spend time by being Christlike in our thoughts,
words, and actions.
another definition states: "Since it is a movement of the Church, the
Cursillo Movement has the same apostolic purpose as the Church herself.
And the Church, as Pope Paul VI told us, exists to evangelize."
is yet another definition that describes the purpose as such: "The
Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Church which by means of its own
method makes it possible for people to live what is fundamental for being a
Christian, and to live it together; it helps people discover and fulfill
their personal vocations, and it promotes the creation of core groups of
Christians who leaven their environments with the Gospel." These
"core groups" are now referred to as "Environmental
mentioned earlier, while the wording of these definitions may differ, their
ideas are the same. The Cursillo Movement is focused to help each of
us fulfill our baptismal responsibility: to go forth, as apostles, and
proclaim the Gospel. We can no longer afford to sit passively by and
"hope" that the world comes to know Christ. We must make a
conscientious effort to "tell" the world about Christ. The
Cursillo Movement provides us with the necessary tools for fulfilling our
baptismal responsibility along with the training for using those tools.
determining the purpose of the Cursillo Movement, it is important that we
focus on two important aspects. The first aspect: We are communal
people. The second aspect: We are teamwork people.
WE ARE COMMUNAL PEOPLE
our very makeup (which was conceived by God), we need relationships
(interaction of two or more persons). A relationship of husband/wife
was required to bring about our conception. A relationship of
mother/child was required to bring about our birth.
growth from newborn to adulthood is filled with relationships in school,
family reunions, Church, vacations, etc. When we enter into the
working environments we find ourselves thrust into completely new
relationships. Neighborhoods can also provide various opportunities
for relationships. Social/Civic/Political involvement(s) most
definitely depend upon relationships. Therefore it is part of our
nature to be part of various communities in our everyday life.
WE ARE A TEAMWORK PEOPLE
in our youth, many of us came to understand the value of teamwork.
Even if one was not involved in a formalized sports program, most were
involved in some form of team competition during P.E. (Physical Education
class) at school. We also learned the value of studying together in an
attempt to improve our grades.
those that serve (or have served) in the military, they realize that the
purpose of Basic Training is to de-emphasize the individual and emphasize
the team. Besides all these examples of teamwork, Christ gave us the
encouragement to work as a team: "Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two
of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall
be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are
gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
(Matthew 18: 19-20).
BACK TO THE TITLE
The purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to bring about a change in the environments. The Cursillo Movement is a deliberate act to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Cursillistas (those that have gone through the 3-Days and are living the Cursillo method) become agents for change in their families, work situations, neighborhoods, social gatherings, etc. Cursillistas are the part of the Christian community (communal) that links together with others (teamwork) to bring Jesus Christ to the world.
DURING THE CURSILLO WEEKEND
day of the Cursillo Weekend begins with Morning Prayers and ends with
Night Prayers. Mass is celebrated daily (except Thursday).
Each participant should be aware that, since prayer is such an intricate
part of the Cursillo Movement, there will be other cursillistas that will
be continually praying and offering up sacrifices - for the success of the
Cursillo Weekend. There will be proper nourishment provided and also
adequate rest periods. Those that have special needs, such as a
particular diet or physical needs, will be attended to properly.
is a time to get to know each other and to have an overview of the
Cursillo Weekend. This is also the retreat phase of the Cursillo
Weekend, which is designed "To awaken the moral consciences of the
participants, beginning with an analysis of their own lives and causing
them to desire to encounter God." The retreat phase (done in
silence and ends Friday morning after Mass) includes three meditations and
"The Way of the Cross." The meditations are: 1) Know
Yourself, 2) The Prodigal Son, and 3) The Three Glances of Christ (this is
given Friday morning).
focus of Friday should be to help each participant to have a better
understanding of themselves. Friday should help them discover what
motivates them in different situations.
this day the participants will hear five presentations. Three
presentations will be given by members of the laity and they are: 1)
Ideals, 2) The Layperson as the Church in the World, and 3) Holiness.
The other two presentations will be given by the Spiritual Directors and
they are: 1) Grace and 2) Faith. While the presentations provide the
participants with information and witnessed experiences, it is the table
discussions (following each presentation) that prove to be one of the real
dynamics of the Weekend. The sharing, which takes place during the
table discussions, provides the participants with an opportunity to share
their own insights about the presentation. Furthermore, the
participants have the opportunity to hear how other participants perceived
that same presentation.
each presentation and table discussions, the participants will draft a
written summary of the presentation and table discussion. Later the
participants will have an opportunity to graphically illustrate their
ideas of the presentations and table discussions. That evening, each
table group will share their summaries and graphic illustrations with the
other participants and team members.
focus for Saturday is to combine that fully realized self (that they
learned about Friday) with a wonderful and loving God. Saturday helps the
participants to understand the current relationship that they have with
God and should spawn a desire for a still deeper and fuller relationship
schedule for Saturday follows the same format as Friday. Again,
there are three laity presentations entitled: 1) Formation, 2)
Evangelization, and 3) Leaders. As with Friday's schedule, there are
also two Spiritual Director presentations entitled: 1) Sacraments, and 2)
Obstacles to a Life of Grace. Table discussions again play a very
dynamic role in generating various insights concerning the presentations.
The summaries (of each presentation) and the graphic illustrations are
shared with all, just like on Friday.
focus for Sunday is the understanding of ourselves, our relationship with
God, and how we can help Him in fulfilling His Will. We learn what
environments we belong to and how we can affect those environments.
same format is used on Sunday, except there is only one Spiritual Director
presentation - Christian Life. There are the usual three laity
presentations, which are: 1) Study and Evangelization of the Environments,
2) Christian Community, and 3) Group Reunion and Ultreya.
night at the Clausura (Closing), the participants come face to face with
the larger Cursillo Community that has been so supportive during the
entire weekend. It is during this meeting that the participants
enter this Cursillo Community.
THE CURSILLO WEEKEND
Cursillo Movement realizes that it will not be an easy task for us to try
to bring Christ to our environments. Therefore, the Cursillo
Movement has two very important tools to assist each of us. These
tools are the Group Reunion and the Ultreya.
Group Reunion is a small group of Cursillo friends that meet on a regular
basis. The purpose of this meeting is to share with one another the
growth that has taken place within each of us. We share our spiritual
growth as well as our growth in becoming a person who strives to bring a
Christ-like attitude to our environments. This meeting is referred
to as a Friendship Group.
we make attempts to bring Christ into our various environments, we will
sometimes become frustrated. The group
Ultreya (Spanish word meaning Onward) is the larger Cursillo community.
It is the time for the members of the Group Reunions to meet with members
of other Group Reunions. The Ultreya is also beneficial in providing
the support and encouragement that each of us needs.
Cursillo Movement helps each of us to understand what our various
environments are. Furthermore, it helps us develop a plan to change
as laity in the Church, can no longer take our role lightly. The
future of our society is in our hands. We must realize that we, as
individuals, can have a great impact on our society. More
importantly, we can have an even greater impact when we find other
individuals that are ready and able to accept the challenge.
history, great things have happened because individuals decided to do more
than was "expected." In the Catholic Church we refer to
some of these individuals as saints.
has been said that Mikhail Gorbachev in ending Communist control was
inspired by the Polish Solidarity Movement leader, Lech Walensa.
Walensa was himself inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King who was inspired by
Rosa Parks, a black woman who refused to sit in the back of the bus.
the introduction, we referred to the mystery of God. How else can we
explain the events that shape our world?
the past, the Cursillo Movement was primarily thought of as a source of
individual spiritual growth. Today, we must realize that this
individual spirituality is just not enough. Today, we must add to
that spirituality. Our society needs us to be apostolic. Our
Church needs us to be apostolic. Our world needs us to be apostolic.
But most of all, our Lord wants us to be apostolic.
us strive to be Christ-like. He chose individuals to become
"fishers of men." Should we do any less?