What is Cursillo?
Cursillo (pronounced kur-SEE-yo), is a Spanish word, which translates best as “Short Course”. The full title is “Cursillo De Cristiandad”, which means “Short Course in Christianity” or Christian Living. Cursillo is not so much an organization, but rather a worldwide lay movement within the Catholic Church. Its mission is exactly the same as the Church's - Evangelization. Helping to Christianize the world by living out what is
Christian fundamentals in our everyday lives. Cursillo begins with three days [weekend] of joyful living and sharing - a short but intense course in Christianity. Because each person's circumstances in life are different and each has a very unique relationship with God, the Cursillo weekend is truly a personal experience and as such can’t be fully described. It must be lived and experienced firsthand to appreciate its richness and fullness. The Cursillo weekend is an encounter with oneself, Christ, and others.
Origination of the Movement
The Cursillo Movement began in Spain in the mid 1940's on the Island of Mallorca. Layman
Eduardo Bonnin, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was the primary leader in founding the Cursillo Movement, with the support of Bishop Juan Hervas. The Cursillo Movement came to the United States at Waco, Texas in 1957. The first few years here it was only given in Spanish. Then along came Father Fidelis Albrecht, a Franciscan priest. His parish was in San Angelo, Texas, plus he had 4 mission parishes. Fr. Fidelis spoke and wrote several street dialects of Spanish. Long story short – the Holy Spirit so inspired him that he ended up attending 18 more weekends in Spanish; before he completed translating it into English. He was the Spiritual Director of the first English speaking weekend in November 1961. In 1962, Bishop Charles Helmsing invited Fr. Fidelis to bring the Cursillo Movement to Kansas City and surrounding areas. The first weekend was held here December 6-9, 1962. Kansas City served as the Cursillo Center for most of the midwest for several years. From Kansas City, Fr. Fidelis and lay teams helped open about a dozen other Cursillo Centers throughout the United States, including a sister movement in Opelousas, Louisiana. Fr. Fidelis passed away in 1973. The Cursillo Movement has now spread worldwide in several languages. The United States National Center is located in Jarrell, Texas.
A Worldwide Movement
The Cursillo Movement has received the personal recognition and blessings of the popes, including Pope Paul VI (who designated St. Paul as its Patron Saint), John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. The Cursillo Movement received Canonical Recognition and approval of its statutes from the Holy See. The Cursillo Movement has been so effective in the Catholic Church; that many other Christian denominations modeled similar programs off it. Their programs generally have names other than Cursillo, such as Walk to Emmaus, Walk with Christ, Camino, Tres Dias, etc. Marriage Encounter, Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), and many other programs also modeled themselves off Cursillo. There is even a spin-off prison ministry (Kairos); as well as for youth: Search, TEC, etc. Following the 3-day weekend, Cursillo provides a method of perseverance to help each person find practical solutions to the problems faced on a daily basis. The correct application of the Cursillo method will help provide a true and lasting peace for the rest of one's life by living out what is fundamental to being a Christian.