Calvert County Ultreya

What is a Cursillo


Most of us are curious, if not mystified, the first time we hear one of our fellow parishioners utter the word “Cursillo”. The word is Spanish for “a short course”. It is used by a group of Catholics to describe a method of renewal which helps them to know Christ better and to participate more fully in the life of their Church. Thus “Cursillo in Christianity” literally means “A short course in Christianity”. And that is exactly what the 3 day weekend provides.

The Cursillo idea was initiated by Bishop Juan Herves of Majorca, Spain while he was developing a short course in Christianity for parishioners who wanted to make a pilgrimage to Campostella. His idea was to develop a course to spiritualize the pilgrimage and have a lasting impact on the pilgrims prior to their departure. From this targeted start, he expanded his original ideas into what became the Cursillo Method in 1949. Today, the course is not directed at pilgrims going to a place in Spain, but to all Christians in the world so that they can share the work Christ has given us to share.

The Cursillo movement is world-wide and exists to strengthen the Church and to renew its members. Members work within the structure of the Church to build up and revitalize the body of Christ. Therefore, Cursillo does not sponsor other specific programs or institutions. Cursillistas come in all shapes and colors. Priests, laypersons and other Christian denominations have completed the “Short Course”. Cursillo has the approval of Church leaders including the Archbishop of Washington and other Bishops.

The Cursillo experience begins with a three-day weekend that some have compared to a retreat. Unlike a retreat, when the Cursillo weekend ends, the, new members are invited into “Reunions”. These are small friendly support groups which meet periodically to share their Christian experiences based on what was learned during the Cursillo weekend. The composition of these groups varies but they are usually 6 to 8 persons. New members can also form new small groups if the existing ones do not meet their needs. There is also a monthly gathering of the small groups into a larger community called Ultreyas, where similar discussions occur with all the small group members. The Calvert County Ultreya meets monthly at St. John Vianney in Prince Frederick, MD.

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