What is Cursillo?


Cursillo (Cur–SEE'–yo) Spanish word meaning "short course"

Cursillos de Christianidad is the full title of the movement. This phrase literally means a short course of lectures in Christian living, but it is not intended to simply refer to a course of instruction (lectures). Rather, it means a short running course (such as St. Paul's admonition to run the good race). It is something to experience, not just to understand intellectually, which is implied in thinking of a course of instruction.

Cursillo is:

  • An opportunity to grow in faith and in spirituality.
  • A deeper understanding of the teachings of Jesus and how we can serve Him.
  • An experience of living and sharing with others in a loving and caring Christian community and realizing that this can be extended into our own environment.
  • A continuing community that gives support and encouragement empowering the renewed Christians to persevere in carrying out their Baptismal vows.

Cursillo includes a three–day weekend which begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday. During these three days, talks are given by lay persons and clergy who have spent time working together carefully planning and preparing for the Weekend.

A Cursillo weekend can be made only once and therefore is not a substitute for a retreat. The basic atmosphere of a Cursillo weekend is unlike the individual solitude of a retreat. During the weekend the teachings of Christ are discussed in a climate of joy and community. Actually the Cursillo weekend makes succeeding retreats more profitable and participants are encouraged to make regular retreats.

The weekend is an opportunity to meet clergy and laity who are seeking to strengthen their faith. Holy Eucharist will be celebrated daily.

How did Cursillo begin?

The first Cursillo Weekends were developed in the Roman Catholic Church in Majorca, Spain. Cursillo was brought to the United States by Spanish airmen who were stationed at air bases in Texas in the late 1950s. The first official Cursillo Weekend in the Episcopal Church (in English) was conducted with help from Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa.

What happens after the weekend?

Each individual who returns from the weekend with a renewed commitment to work for Christ is encouraged to join in the activities of an existing community of persons who have also experienced the weekend. The purpose of this community is to give strength and support to each other in order that each person might grow in faith and develop their particular gifts of ministry. The support is provided through two methods:

  • GROUP MEETINGS (Reunions) that are held frequently when several people gather together for mutual encouragement and support through PRAYER, STUDY, and ACTION.
  • AREA MEETINGS (Ultreyas) that are meetings of larger groups of people who have either participated in a weekend or who might be interested in doing so. Here they share and witness to others so that the Church and their own faith may be built up.

Who can take part?

Cursillo is open to all adult Episcopalians, men and women, married or single. Laity and clergy alike are invited to join the fellowship. Husbands and wives are strongly encouraged to attend the same Cursillo Weekend.

What is expected of participants?

  • To be open and willing to respond to what you experience, to share your feelings with others, and to allow them to share theirs with you.
  • To make a genuine effort to discover where you are and where or how you can grow in your Christian life.
  • To feel secure in the knowledge that you are accepted where you are and as you are, and to know that a specific response is not expected of you.
  • To be curious enough and thirsty enough for spiritual exploration and nourishment to acknowledge a need to commit a weekend of your life totally to Christ.

How do I apply?

Every participant has a sponsor, who has attended a Cursillo weekend. This sponsor will assist you in preparation for the weekend and, more importantly, assist you after the weekend. If you know someone in your parish who has attended a Cursillo weekend, ask them to tell you more and how to get started, and let your priest know about your interest. Pray about it, and if you conclude that you should go, submit an application that your sponsor will provide.

Cursillo is open to adult members of the Episcopal Church – men and women, married or single.
For more information, please contact parish lay rector Mollie Barrett at 256-749-5554; email her at mhbarrett@charter.net; or contact The Rev. Rob Iler in the church office. Additional information is available at www.cursillo.dioala.org.