Beginning in Spain in 1948, Cursillo has been successful throughout the world in enabling Christians to discern their vocation, become equipped for mission, confidently witness for Christ through their faith, study and action and to take leadership roles in helping God’s Church fulfil God’s mission.
Cursillo (Cur-see-o) meaning “course” in Spanish, was featured in a “missional moment” at our recent diocesan Synod. Presented by Lay Director Renée Anderson and Spiritual Director Rev. Brian Galligan, who both were commissioned into their positions by Bishop Susan Bell and Bishop Todd Townshend, the Niagara-Huron Anglican Cursillo is led by a Secretariat elected by members from across our two dioceses.
Cursillo involves attending a three-day weekend residential course to hear, discuss, and witness talks given by both clergy and laity. There are also explanations of Anglican theology, worship services accompanied by both joyful and meditative music, together with time for prayer and reflection. During the weekend participants are introduced to the benefits of being part of a small Christian support group that meets on a regular basis following the weekend, to encourage one another in their faith, study and action. This is along the lines of the “cell’ groups recommended by the Fresh Expressions Movement and described by the Church of England Mission-Shaped Church working group. Other supports recommended to assist participants following their weekend are to make a commitment to a “rule of life” for their walk with Christ, to seek out and regularly meet with a spiritual advisor and to attend regional witness and worship gatherings, called Cursillo Ultreyas.
Within this Christian life structure, many participants find themselves open to encountering God in their life and discerning God’s plan for their life. Supported by a faithful and caring wider community many find themselves open to, and able to develop a growing relationship with Christ. This is often accompanied by a sense of being empowered to accept apostolic responsibility and consequently many participants can be found engaged in volunteer ministry leadership positions, throughout the church.
So how do people sign up? Well in the first instance they don’t. Every participant first needs a sponsor who has already attended a weekend and is ready to make a commitment to support their participant, before, during, and after the weekend. Before inviting someone to attend a weekend, the sponsor must first speak with their prospective participant’s priest to see if they think that attending a Cursillo Weekend, would be a good step at this time, in their parishioner’s faith formation. The priest must then agree to meet with their parishioner before the weekend to discuss Cursillo and to sign their registration form. They agree to meet again after attending their weekend to discuss how they are feeling and whether the priest can offer them help in discerning God’s possible call for their life.
Typically following a weekend, the participants (now called Cursillistas) do feel drawn to want to make a difference in the world and their priest’s guidance is essential in helping them take the next steps on their Christian journey. While the goal is, that with the support of the Cursillo method and their parish priest, the laity will find a way to live out their baptismal covenant in missional leadership positions, some have felt strongly called to the Sacraments and have responded by following the path to ordained ministry. Not surprisingly, Cursillo has the strong support of our bishop and primate, and you are invited to explore Cursillo as a method by which both clergy and laity, can be motivated to become more actively involved members of God’s Church for God’s mission.
As we seek to respond to the Great Commission and proclaim the Gospel to all nations, the Cursillo mission statement suggests that we: Make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ. The Cursillo method equips and supports people to do just that. Our next weekend will be offered in the spring of 2023 and so we encourage existing Cursillistas right now, to think about who they might wish to sponsor for that weekend. Next arrange to meet with your prospective participant’s priest to see if they agree that they are ready to take this next step in their faith formation, before inviting your participant.