Calling all Cursillistas!By: Bishop James V. Johnston Jr.
“One of the two who had followed [Jesus] after hearing John was Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew. The first thing he did was seek out his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah!’ (This term means the Anointed.) He brought him to Jesus …”
“One of the two who had followed [Jesus] after hearing John was Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew. The first thing he did was seek out his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah!’ (This term means the Anointed.) He brought him to Jesus …”—Jn 1:40-42
One of the questions I am often asked in my travels across our diocese is along these lines, “Bishop, is there a possibility that we can start Cursillo again?” I am amazed at how many in our diocese have made a Cursillo weekend in the past. I am also struck that, for many, the Cursillo experience was a turning point in their lives—an experience in which they experienced Jesus Christ very powerfully and realized what it meant to become a disciple. Having made a Cursillo weekend a decade ago as a priest, I can identify with the spiritual fruit that comes with a Cursillo weekend.
For those unfamiliar, Cursillo is a Catholic movement that began in Spain in 1944, and literally means, “small course [of Christianity].” A Cursillo weekend is a three-day encounter in which participants grow in their faith and are drawn into a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, aided by others, who give talks based on the action and presence of the Lord in their own lives. Cursillo provides men and women with a way of growing further as a Christian through piety/prayer, study, and apostolic action, with the help and support of others who have made the weekend at some point in the past. In this sense, it does not end with aids and friends to help along the journey, but it launches one on a clearer path toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
Cursillo is also ordered toward bringing others to Jesus. Its method of evangelization is summed up in the Cursillo saying, “Make a friend, Be a friend, Bring a friend to Christ.” With the current movement of our Church toward a more deliberate and intentional focus on mission, Cursillo is a movement that is very suited to the present situation.
This past week, at their request, I met with a very motivated group of lay Cursillistas (those who have made a Cursillo), and Fr. Bill Hodgson, pastor of St. Ann Church in Carthage. We discussed the steps that would be prudent in exploring a resurrected Cursillo program in the diocese. Here is what we determined: First, Fr. Hodgson has agreed to become the Spiritual Director for Cursillo in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. With this appointment, he has also agreed to be the collection point for those who have made a Cursillo weekend either here or in another diocese who wish to be a part of the renewed community. If you wish to be involved, send your name, contact information (address, Email, and phone numbers(s)), and name of your parish to Fr. Hodgson at firstname.lastname@example.org Fr. Hodgson, along with others, will first organize the community, to start committing again to live the “tripod” of piety/prayer, study, and apostolic action; and finally to begin organizing in such a way as to eventually build a welcoming Cursillo Community that will offer the experience to others.
With the Diocesan Visioning Process that I and my team have been working on over the past year complete, I believe the Holy Spirit has brought Cursillo to the surface again at this present moment, as we examine our efforts to be more intentional followers of Jesus. While I won’t be announcing the full vision, priorities, and goals for the diocese until Aug. 15-31, during my “Bishop’s Road Rally Revival,” I will share that one of our diocesan goals will focus on the availability of Christian encounter opportunities for all of our parishes. Cursillo is emerging again in the diocese, and at the right time.