About Us

What Is Cursillo?

The Cursillo [cur SEE yo], is a Lay Catholic movement that takes its name from Cursillos in Cristiandad, Spanish for “short courses in Christianity.” The short course is such a powerful experience that both the short course, and the movement, are known by the name “Cursillo.” Want to Hear More About Cursillo? is a brief public service announcement about Cursillo in our diocese. You can listen to an interview originally broadcast on WMET-AM with Spiritual Director Father Tuck Grinnell, then Lay Director Phil Kiko, and Cursillista Doug Fehrer here.

The Cursillo

The Cursillo is an opportunity to examine and celebrate yourself, your relationship with Christ, and your relationship with the Christian community. It lasts three days and is usually held over a weekend. We begin with a silent retreat Thursday evening through Friday morning. For the rest of the weekend, you’ll hear short talks on a variety of topics, focused on the sacraments, from team members’ faith perspectives. During the days, you’ll discuss the talks and your impressions with the same small group. In the evenings, each group summarizes its discussion for the other tables.

There’s time for meditation and Reconciliation as well as community meals. Two spiritual directors, at least one of them a priest, will be on the team and present throughout the weekend. Mass is celebrated every day. And there’s a lot of music and singing—if you have an instrument, bring it along!

Men and women have separate retreats because the way we communicate is different.

This is a safe but challenging weekend. We strive to provide an environment that helps you to grow in Christ’s love.

How do I get involved?

What happens after the Weekend?

How do we continue to grow in the community after we leave the rosy glow of the Cursillo for the real world? Through weekly Group Reunion. We help each other—and hold each other accountable in growing in our faith through:

  • Piety – what we do to grow in holiness
  • Study – learning; the bridge between holiness and helping our neighbor, and
  • Action – bringing our Christian values to bear in all our environments.

Using these three “topics,” we break open our lives at Group Reunion so we can grow from our shared experiences, our successes and failures. This accountability helps us all stay on track. Our goals for a week may be large or modest-sounding. Group Reunion is often the most real conversation we’ll have all week.

Your own Group Reunion will be unlike any other. Find the one that meets your needs and fills your soul. Unlike the Cursillo, men and women may participate in the same group reunion.

Occasionally, a parish’s groups renew contact with each other at larger gatherings we call Ultreya [ull TRAY ya], a Spanish word of encouragement. Ultreya usually features a guest speaker and live music, in addition to a potluck meal.

How much time you choose to invest is up to you, but we encourage you to give Group Reunion a try, because it provides an environment that helps you to grow in Christ’s love. We believe in the power of grouping so strongly that we refer to your entire life after the weekend as the Fourth Day.

What does the larger Cursillo movement do?

The joy of knowing Christ is such that it produces the desire to introduce others to Him. We do this by friendship, also. At the heart of the movement is the expression “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.” We believe that inviting our friends to a Cursillo is one of the best ways for this to happen. We do everything necessary to put on the short course so our friends can discover Jesus for themselves.

How is Cursillo linked to the Catholic Church?

We’re focused on Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord. St Paul is our patron saint. Our mission is the church’s mission. We’re fully Catholic, and obedient to the Magesterium. We are joined to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops through our official liaison, Most Rev. James A. Tamayo, Bishop of Laredo, and through the Bishops’ Secretariat for the Laity in Washington, D.C. Popes Paul VI (1966) and John Paul II (1980) mentioned Cursillo as one of the hopes for the church.

The Most Reverend Paul Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, himself a Cursillista, knows who we are, and supports what we’re doing. As he has said, “The Cursillo is a unique opportunity in which to deepen your awareness of Christ’s love and of our sharing in His saving mission through prayer, study and witness – all rooted in a true spirit of community. The Cursillo will change your life immensely! I know from personal experience!”

Many of us are active in our parishes. However, the Cursillo aim is to teach you how to live the Christian life. Your apostolate may be in the parish—or not.

(For information about Cursillo in the Arlington Diocese for Spanish speakers, contact Danilo Rivera, 703-470-8095, dijo70@nullaol.com.)

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