What is Cursillo?

Cursillo is a ministry of the church. Its purpose is to help those in the church understand their individual callings to be Christian Leaders. The leadership may be exercised in work situations, in the family and social life, in leisure activities, and within the Church environment. Leadership, in Cursillo, does not mean power over others, but influence on others; all of us need to be aware that we can exert a positive influence on those around us.

What is the Goal of Cursillo? The goal of Cursillo is the goal of the Church: to share the healing love of God in Jesus Christ. This is done when informed, trained leaders set out with the support of others having a similar commitment.

What does Cursillo do? It helps to renew and deepen Christian faith and commitment. Cursillo is one of many renewal movements. Many people have said that Cursillo provides an important learning experience which causes many to feel like newly made Christians with a purpose and with support.

What is the Cursillo Ministry about? Cursillo is patterned on Jesus’ own example. He searched out and called a small group of potential leaders, and trained them by word and example and inspired them with a vision (Three-Day Weekend).  He linked them together and sent them out into the world to bring his love and forgiveness to the world (Fourth Day).

During this period before a Cursillo weekend, sponsors (i.e. those individuals who have been to the three-day Cursillo weekend and are living the Fourth Day) identify Episcopalians who are leading an active Christian life and are a living witness to their love for Christ, recommending their candidacy. It is also during that period that candidates are informed of what to expect at the three-day weekend and assisted in appropriate preparations.

The Three-Day Weekend brings together a diverse group of Episcopalians to share the richness of many modes of worship and to broaden each one’s appreciation for our Church. Lay people conduct the weekend with two or three members of the clergy functioning as spiritual advisers. Cursillo presumes that those who attend are already well grounded in the faith. It is not intended to be a conversion experience, but an enriching and deepening of what is already there. It often provides new insights into our faith, as well as fostering ministry and leadership among lay people.

The weekend begins with Thursday evening spent in the Chapel with meditations, discussions, and Compline. Then blessed silence is kept until after the worship on Friday morning. After breakfast participants are assigned to table groups for the weekend. The three days are filled with talks and group discussions with emphasis on the doctrine of Grace, the Sacraments, and the great Cursillo tripod: Piety, Study, and Action. Plus there is fellowship, singing, good food, and time for privacy, meditation, prayer, and walks. Eucharist is celebrated each day.

Fourth Day:  The Cursillo weekend is not an end to itself. It is a starting point that lasts the rest of your life. It is a springboard to a long-range practice of the Baptismal Covenant in the life of the Church, and is termed “the Fourth Day.” The Fourth Day is composed of a few major elements:

The Group Reunion, which for many is the the heart of Cursillo, is a small group of friends (usually 3-5) who meet regularly to support each other in their spiritual journeys. They share about their lives in Christ, what they are learning, how they are connecting with God, and the apostolic actions they are taking to share the love of God and the Good News of Jesus. A bonding develops that institutes a strong support group that nurtures the members in their walks of faith.

The Ultreya is a “reunion of the reunions.” It provides support and builds community by allowing the sharing of communal experiences. But you don’t need to be in a Group Reunion to attend an Ultreya; in fact, you don’t even need to have attended a Cursillo weekend.  Anyone can come, and all are welcome.

Are there Cursillo secrets? You may have been told by some who have attended the weekend that they cannot tell you what Cursillo is all about or what goes on during a Three-day weekend. This is not correct. Everything that goes on during the weekend may be told to anyone. Cursillo literature is available to anyone who wishes to read or obtain the materials.

Oregon Bishop Michael Hanley said, “I made my Cursillo in 1982 in Oklahoma along with my wife, Marla.  It was a powerful experience with the love of God in community.  I recommend it to anyone interested in deepening their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.  Yes, God can be encountered in many places and in many ways, but God is often most powerfully experienced in community.  Cursillo provides a wonderful experience and the presence of God in community.”

Bishop Gregory Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia writes, “To me, Cursillo is Christianity 101. When I made my Cursillo over 25 years ago I remember finding, in those grace-filled, and a bit challenging days, how much I did not know, how much I had yet not experienced about our faith.   I found a depth there that has never faded.  It also taught me more about Christian community, and Christian leadership.  My faith, and therefore my life, was enriched in those days, and that has grown ever since.

Former Bishop of Oregon Robert Ladehoff wrote, “All of God’s people share a deep longing for growth and reflection and renewal.  In a day of pain and confusion and rootlessness, all of us are being drawn towards God.  I found new strength and stability for my life when I made my Cursillo in 1983.  I was deeply moved to hear the dedicated people making formal presentations about Christian belief.  Cursillo was great fun, a time for singing and learning, an opportunity to build friendships that continue to this day.  I invite you to ponder your longings for a deeper relationship to God and God’s people.  Consider Cursillo.  It has been a glorious channel of God’s grace for many of us. ”

Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was living in Oregon when she first began pursuing ordination as a priest, said, “I attended a Cursillo weekend in 1991 as I began to answer a call to deeper engagement in God’s mission.  It was a profound experience of God’s love in community, and I learned much.  Cursillo is an ongoing opportunity to grow – in capacity for loving action in the world, in deepened engagement in community, in awareness of God’s action in our lives, and more conscious and open relationship with God.  If you are seeking MORE in your life, come and see!”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, also a Cursillista, says, “When I look to see where the spirit is moving and Episcopalians are lit up with the love of Christ and each other, I know to look to Cursillo. This ministry is such a gift to the Episcopal Church, and never more than in this moment as we seek to follow our Lord’s call into the Jesus Movement.”

“Through Cursillo the love of God is experienced afresh, an experience which draws
us into prayer and compassionate action. Because of this, Cursillo is a much needed
instrument for the renewal of the life of the Church today, and one for which I give thanks.” – Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Reverend Justin Welby

Here are some brief summaries of Cursillo, for giving to potential candidates.