The Cursillo Movement

CD asks: “Our parish has started a group under the Cursillo Movement. I am trying to discern if this is something that would enhance my faith and life at as a catholic.I know that Cursillo is a Spanish word for Short Course as the membership begins with a 3 day weekend retreat (ie short course) and the rest of the movement is focused on  living the 4th Day.  The last Ultreya( regional group reunion) I attended was very uplifting. It is so wonderful to meet so many beautiful souls who love our Lord and strive to grow in His love.  Can you shed some light on this Movement as I have not heard much about it.  . . . I wish to grow in my faith and walk with our Lord in my vocation as a wife and mother of 3 sons aged 17, 19 and 25.”

This is a very beautiful spiritual movement that has been a source of authentic renewal in the Catholic Church. CD, feel free to dive in with both feet!

For those of you who do not know, the Cursillo Movement originated in Spain in the 1940’s with a man named Eduado Bonnin Aquilo (1917-2008). Born to devout Catholic parents in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, he was one of ten children who grew up imbued with the faith.

While serving in the army during the Spanish Civil War, he came across a copy of the text of a sermon given by Pope Pius XII calling on the faithful to find new ways to tell people about the love of God. This call became the driving force in Eduardo’s life.

Along with a group of devout men, he developed the Cursillo concept (which means a “short course in Christianity”) which his group first used to bring Christ to the young men of Mallorca. It quickly spread to parishes throughout Spain and into neighboring countries, eventually coming to America in 1957.

Essentially, the Cursillo method focuses on training lay people to become effective leaders over the course of a three-day weekend. A typical course usually begins on a Thursday evening and ends on Sunday evening. During those three days the “Cursillistas” live and work together, listening to 15 talks given by priests and laity as well as participating in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The talks deal with topics such as Grace, Faith, Holiness, Study, the Sacraments, Evangelization, Obstacles to Grace, Christian Life, etc.

After the weekend is over, participants enter the “Fourth Day” which is the time to take what they have learned into the world.

In order to persevere in this call to evangelization, and to keep the community spirit alive after the weekend concludes, members are called back to regular reunions, known as “ultreyas,” which can be held weekly or bimonthly or as often as the people feel they need in order to keep their zeal alive.

Today, Cursillo is a worldwide movement with centers in nearly all South and Central American countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several African countries.

The movement has received the backing of the U.S. Church and enjoys an official liaison with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is also a member of the International Catholic Organizations of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome.

Speaking about the movement as long ago as 1966, Pope Paul VI addressed the group with high praise: ” . . . (P)ermit 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 hierarchy. ‘Cursillo’s de Cristiandad! Christ, the Church, the Pope, are counting on you!”

Eduardo Bonnin Aguilo has been declared a Servant of God and the process of his beatification is now underway.

See the National Cursillo Center in Jarrell, Texas for more information.

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