A New Model of Engagement for Cursillo in Niagara Approved by Bishop

BY THE NIAGARA HURON ANGLICAN CURSILLO SECRETARIAT

A new model of engagement has emerged for Cursillo in Niagara and the Diocese of Niagara.

This model retains the method of our Cursillo founders, and will involve ten pilot churches in the diocese, both clergy and active Cursillo members, who will identify those in parishes who are seeking faith formation and enrichment. To get to this point involved much prayer, the assistance of the diocesan office, especially Bishop Susan Bell, actively and positively creating a path for the Good News that comes out of a Cursillo Weekend.

“Over the past year, we have been prayerfully discerning the future role of Cursillo in Niagara as part of an intentional dialogue with the members of the Niagara-Huron Anglican Cursillo Secretariat,” said Bishop Susan Bell. “Cursillo has a long and vibrant history in our diocese and has helped many people grow in their faith and in their relationship with Jesus.”

Bishop Bell approved this new parish-level collaborative Cursillo model in December 2020. We would like to describe the background leading up to her decision and give an appraisal of its significance for the diocese.

The new model provides a blueprint for how Cursillo will operate at the parish level. It sets out the roles of various people, and enumerates the steps in a process to engage people in the parish. The foundation of the model is close collaboration between the parish priest and Cursillo volunteers in the parish.

In March of last year, Bishop Bell endorsed a report which had been prepared by the Niagara Huron Anglican Cursillo Secretariat (NHACS) on proposed changes to improve the Cursillo Movement in the diocese, following feedback from clergy in 2019. NHACS is a committee of elected people who are responsible for the growth of the Cursillo movement in the diocese; two people on this committee are appointed by the bishop.

This feedback came from response to a survey and from a clergy focus group discussion. The feedback clearly indicated that a number of changes were needed. NHACS analyzed the feedback and then devel- oped recommended changes. Following approval of the report by the Bishop, implementation of these recommendations began, in collaboration with the Diocese of Niagara. One of the recommendations was to develop the new parish-level collaborative model.

The next step is to implement the new model in the diocese. With some suggestions from
the Bishop, work is proceeding to identify ten parishes to be the first to implement the new model. The goal is to select those parishes most likely to succeed with implementation. Brian Galligan, priest-in-charge at St. Simon’s Church in Oakville, is also the Cursillo spiritual director in Niagara. Brian has interviewed a number of priests, asking about their support of Cursillo and their willingness to devote time and effort to implement activities. NHACS is also identifying volunteers who have attended a Cursillo Weekend and who are willing to help in the implementation too. When implementation is underway in ten parishes, later in 2021, the goal is to have at least 20 candidates from these parishes attend the next Cursillo Weekend, scheduled for November, 2021.

The first objective in the diocesan Mission Action Plan for the next 3–5 years is “to discern and implement opportunities to ignite and strengthen faith.” That is exactly what the Cursillo Movement has been accomplishing. Over a 40-year period, an estimated 1,000 people have gone on Cursillo Weekends in the Niagara Diocese. In 2018, a phone survey was conducted with 30 persons drawn from this group. Eighty-five percent said the experience was significant and years later, when the survey was conducted, the impact was still discernable in the specific changes that they had made in their lives. More specifically, respondents were asked to rate their Cursillo experience on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means a negligible impact and 10 means the Weekend experience transformed your life completely.

In answer to this question, 28 persons gave a rating and of these, 24 (85%) gave a rating of 7 or higher.

“With a renewed model, passionate leadership, and God’s help, the future of the Cursillo Movement in Niagara looks bright, said Bishop Bell. “Lives will be transformed as Cursillo comes alongside the objectives of our diocesan MAP.”

Details of the new model can be found at niagaracursillo.org.