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So, what is Cursillo? Many think the Cursillo weekend is a nice retreat. A spiritual treat shared with an exclusive group of people. It could be a mountain top experience away from ordinary life that renews a remembered sensation of community. A spirit-filled weekend filled with emotional highs. Maybe Cursillos is an opportunity to relive an important moment in our spiritual growth that feeds our soul and strengthens our sense of purpose. Kind of strange if it is only offered as a one-time experience, what is the point? More importantly, what part does it play in our journey to God?

The purpose of Cursillo is to enable lay Catholics to live their lives by Jesus’s two great commandments—to love God and love our neighbor. The Cursillo charism is friendship. To love your neighbor, it is essential to know the person, spend time, talk and share--to become friends and grow closer to God. This takes time and effort but it is an investment in our salvation.
Friendship is the key to the Cursillo. Friends are like meringue pie. Some are the golden brown highlights on the top. The people we wave to on the street as they walk their dogs or the grocery clerks we see weekly. We recognize them as part of our environment. Some are the white bubble filled meringue—Facebook posts and quick chats at coffee and donuts after Mass. Some are the tart sweet parts of our lives, filled with give and take, good and not so pleasant—neighbors, coworkers and distant family. Others are our crust—stable, supportive and always there. All of this is held together by the beautiful pie pan of our life in God. 

It sounds incredible. How do we get started? We meet a cursillista and become friends with him or her. It could be someone in our parish, a relative or someone in our neighborhood. We talk with them about our life experiences, maybe a connection through our children or another organization. Somewhere along there is an invitation to “Come and see”. Whoever brings up the idea, we sign up for a Cursillo Weekend. This will be an introduction into the Cursillo life.

Just like boot camp, the weekend will be an intensive experience composed of three components. Part of the weekend is the prayers and liturgy familiar to our Catholic practices. Part is the lived experience of community with our brothers or sisters. Something I thought was a foretaste of heaven. The last part is the Rollos, 15 talks that developed the Cursillo plan of living our lives. These talks gradually draw the candidate into the Cursillo method of perseverance—Group reunion. The purpose of the Three Day Cursillo weekend is to build the friendships and skills that the cursillista will use. The weekend is the bridge to that Fourth Day, meaning the rest of your life.
Cursillo gives us the tool, our 4th day group reunions, to grow friendship on a deeper level, down to the crust. To learn to really know our group sisters or brothers takes time. To learn to love them, we share our lives prayer, study, action, closest moments to Christ, apostolic successes and failures. We also share our aspirations and plans. We ask them to hold us to our course. In success and failure, we come back to them for support, encouragement, consolation, and a reminder that human failure could be part of God’s plan. Weekly group reunion is the tool of the Cursillo. We do not go to God alone but with our arms around each other.

The second tool the Cursillo gives us is the Ultreya. This is a celebration of the Cursillo group reunion. It is the support of our wider Cursillo community. Its purpose is to challenge and inspire the groups. To inspire the vision, bring the stagnant to enthusiasm, support to the struggling and share successes and joys. Participating in Ultreya with your 4th day group reunion brings joy and a sense of connection with the whole Cursillo community.

Bringing friends who have not yet made a Cursillo to the Ultreya is a great way to inspire and encourage participation. Careful introduction of prospective candidates to a group reunion is ideal with the support of the group sisters or brothers. These are the ordinary environment of the cursillista.

Those who want to know more about the movement or consider making the Cursillo an apostolate should attend School of Leaders. A floating group reunion is established in the School. Friendships are formed and a purpose is established. The title is a carryover from the Spanish terminology but the School is the compass of the Cursillo movement in the diocese. This is where ideas and plans for the Cursillo movement are generated. In the School, those who see the importance of supporting the movement join in steering the Cursillo course. Palanca, study and action are essential on the schedule. To stop learning is to die. The Cursillo publications are available at the School. On the National website there are many videos and printed talks from National and Regional encounters. These allow us to share the experiences of cursillistas around the world. During the SOL meetings, our sisters and brothers share their vision of the Cursillo message.
What is the Cursillo? Come join us and see.

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