Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
|Why was the Cursillo Movement founded?
The starting point of the entire Movement was the profound perception of a reality. That reality, as the founders saw it, was as simple as this: They saw a world with its back turned on God, Christ, and the Church. They had a deep-seated conviction that life had ceased to be Christian. They felt that this was because the influence Christianity had, on real life, was just about nonexistent – even in so-called Catholic circles.Top
|How does the Cursillo Movement define itself?
The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement book defines the Movement as “A movement of the Church which by means of its own method makes it possible for people to live what is fundamental for being a Christian, and to live it together; it helps people discover and fulfill their personal vocations, and it promotes the creation of core groups of Christians who leaven their environments with the Gospel.” (F.I. #111)Top
|Who is the person responsible for the Cursillo Movement in a Diocese?
The basic book of the Cursillo Movement, Fundamental Ideas states that direction of the Cursillo Movement in the Diocese is a shared one between the Bishop and the Diocesan Secretariat. While anything Catholic in a Diocese is the responsibility of the local Bishop, most Bishops are not that familiar with the workings of a movement and usually appoint a responsible party for it. In this case, the Diocesan Secretariat fulfills that function. (F.I. # 576) The Secretariat should be organized or structured according to the needs, possibilities, and concrete circumstances of the given time and place. The number of its members and their responsibilities will be determined by the functions demanded for the fulfillment of its mission. “Members of the Secretariat should come from the School of Leaders where they have already demonstrated (through their service to the Movement) their ability, competence, spirit of service, use and understanding of the method, humility, wisdom, and sanctity.” (L.M. pg.41)Top
|What is the Cursillo Movement’s role in Evangelization?
Pope Paul VI said in his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World that the Church’s essential mission is to evangelize (EN 14), which means bringing the Good News into all levels of humanity and society so as to transform them according to the Gospel (EN 18). The Cursillo Movement emphasizes the role of the lay person in being an evangelizer in the family, neighborhood, place of work and with friends and acquaintances. Thus, the apostolic action of each cursillista is a concrete contribution to the work of evangelization.Top
|What environments should the Cursillo Movement be concerned about?
Generally speaking, each Diocesan Secretariat is supposed to study their local environments and determine which ones should be evangelized first. The National Secretariat asked all Diocesan Secretariats to be aware of certain environments. This is reflected in the following released statement: “Each Diocesan Movement is asked to study the environments it finds itself immersed in and to establish a Pastoral Plan for their transformation by means of the Cursillo method. All Diocesan Movements, particularly those in the big cities, are asked to pay particular attention to the following environments and to take concrete steps for their Christianization: -the advertising field -the academic community -the communication field -the medical profession -the political field. The Cursillo Movement as a whole must make a concerted effort to radically change the present environment of our country so that it may be more Christian in its life and customs. The environments which have a greater influence on the other environments and, consequently form the lifestyle of our people, must have a priority in our apostolic planning. Diocesan Secretariats are urged to begin selecting the key people in the aforementioned environments and other important environments in accordance with our Precursillo method. Plans should be made to link them together as lay apostles, by means of friendship groups, environmental groups and Ultreyas following their 3-day Cursillo. Using this method we are able to transform this world, systematically, for Christ. This enables us to fulfill our purpose within the pastoral work of the Church.”Top
|Are we taking the Holy Spirit out of it if we only select key people from our environments?
Selection is part of the Cursillo process. That is why people are divided into three categories: those who should go – those who can go – those who should not go. There is always room in the Cursillo for the first two categories. Unfortunately, if there is no emphasis on evangelizing environments by means of the strategy and method of the Cursillo,we end up with most of the candidates being from the ‘those who can go’ category. A good Precursillo program selects environments, key persons in those environments, and then prepares them for the Cursillo with a view to anchoring them in their environments as evangelizers in small groups afterwords. Even in such good Precursillo program there is still room to take some of those who can go and in these we have seen the Holy Spirit create leaders. A good Precursillo will ensure more of those who should go than those who can go, but the Cursillo weekend will contain both.Top
|What is the basic criteria for a candidate?
First, from the beginning of the Movement, the basic criteria for a person being selected has been that the candidate be in a position to receive the sacraments. Non-Catholics, including spouses, must not be accepted for a Catholic Cursillo mainly because the weekend is based on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, Catholic doctrine and dogma. Non-Catholics should be encouraged to participate in whatever renewal program, including Cursillo,is available to them within their own denomination. Secondly, those who have psychological or emotional problems or whose moral life is not in order, should not go.Top
|What are the guidelines for couples when one spouse isn’t eligible to make a Cursillo or does not wish to make a Cursillo?
The purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to evangelize environments through the natural leaders of those environments. With this in mind and taking into consideration the pluralistic society in which we live, we will encounter situations where a spouse may not be Catholic or the spouse of the natural leader does not wish to attend the Cursillo weekend. Thus the reason for guidelines on couples. The Couples Guidelines: When selecting a person for Cursillo,male or female, it should be determined if that person is married before preparing the person for Cursillo. Even though the Cursillo Weekend is lived individually, the spiritual life of the couple, both before and after the Cursillo Weekend, must be considered. The Cursillo Movement holds in highest regard the Sacrament of Marriage and if participation in a Cursillo by one and not the other might have an adverse effect on that Sacrament, then we suggest some other form of individual spiritual renewal. Once it is known that the person is married, we need to determine whether both are eligible to attend the Cursillo or if both are interested in attending the Cursillo Weekend. If something would prevent one spouse from attending, either because that individual is not eligible or that person does not wish to attend, then the following steps would be taken. 1. The couple would be invited to meet with the Spiritual Advisor of the Movement, member of the Secretariat, and/or leader from the School of Leaders. 2. During the meeting a full explanation to the purpose/method of the Movement would be given. 3. A complete explanation, of what is expected of those who go through the 3-Day exercise, is given. 4. Most importantly, an explanation of what is expected during the 4th Day (Group Reunion and Ultreya). 5. If both agree, that one spouse attending the Weekend while the other spouse does not will not have an adverse affect on their Sacrament of Marriage, then the one who is eligible and wants to attend should be allowed to do so. In the case where both are eligible and both agree to attend the Cursillo,then both should be prepared at the same time and the question of who attends first is not important.Top
|What is the role of a sponsor?
A sponsor for a candidate can either be an individual or, better still, a group. Whether a group, a community (Ultreya), or an individual, whoever is responsible for enrolling and preparing the candidates – the following is expected: a) that they understand the purpose of the Cursillo Movement, the environments that have been selected as priorities for evangelization, and the basic criteria as to who can, who should, and who should not make a Cursillo; b) that they be well acquainted with their candidates, through close personal contact; c) that as “servants of the truth” they try, through their witness of word and of life, to awaken in their candidates an attitude of openness to inquiry, to friendship, and to change; andTop
|What is involved in the preparation of a candidate?
Basically, the preparation of the candidate should be by personal contact to dispose him or her to be open to what the weekend will offer in a better understanding of themselves, of their relationship with God and the Church and in experiencing Christian community. Preparation should also include an invitation to join a community afterwards. The weekend should be pictured as an introduction to something better, not an end in itself. (L.M. pg. 68-71)Top
|How do you make sponsors follow through with their candidates?
Actually, the Cursillo leaders are responsible for the candidates before, during and after the Cursillo Weekend. That responsibility may be shared with sponsors. The critical point in selection is that the leader and the sponsor know the candidate, his or her disposition, personality, etc. A sponsor who knows a candidate will obviously take the follow-up responsibility more seriously. A sponsor who is in a group reunion, attends Ultreya, and can group with the candidate afterwards will be more responsible than someone who hands out an application. (L.M. pg.74)Top
|Should one Diocese take candidates from another Diocese?
In order to foster good Precursillo programs, Diocesan Secretariats are reminded that candidates should not be accepted from other Dioceses under the responsibility of another Diocese, without the express permission of the Secretariat in the Diocese where the candidate is living. (L.M. pg. 306)Top
|Is it best to set a date for a Cursillo Weekend and get the candidates for it, or get the candidates and then set the date?
Both have merit, but from experience we have seen that when dates are set, getting candidates seems to be the overriding factor. It would seem that if we want good candidates, it might be better to find and prepare them first, rather than the filling a weekend way.Top
|What is the minimum number of persons needed to hold a Weekend?
Ideally, between 30 and 40. If there are less than thirty it will not form an adequate expression of Christian community. If there are more than forty there are too many to achieve a proper experience of Christian community. (L.M. pg. 108)Top
|Why does the Weekend have to be strictly Catholic?
It is not that the Cursillo should be for Catholics only but that the Cursillo be denominational because the program should be true to each denomination’s particular teachings, dogma, liturgy, etc.Top
|Has there ever been a shortened Cursillo Weekend?
In the late 1970’s one Diocese did experiment with a two day Cursillo and, after an evaluation of it compared with the proper 3-Day one, the National Secretariat issued a policy on it as follows:Top
|What is the tradition in regard to the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Cursillo?
Traditionally, the early cursillistas had a devotion to Our Lady of Lluc in Mallorca where the Cursillos were born. The rosary was always prayed during the Cursillo and, in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, the title Mother of Divine Grace was always repeated three times. Bishop Hervas said in the original Leaders Manual that the Cursillos were born in the bosom of the Blessed Virgin and under her protection they spread throughout the world. Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement says that the Virgin Mary inspired the Cursillo Movement from the very beginning. Although no talk is dedicated to her, her presence and name appear, as in Christ’s life, in each of the Cursillo’s decisive moments. (F.I. #339)Top
|Can talks be substituted on the Weekend?
The implementation of the weekend requires that the approved talks be given in the proper order. To alter substantially any of the talks or to substitute something else or to present them in a different order would be contrary to the precise application of the Cursillo,which use of the name and technique implies. That is why each National Secretariat is charged with implementing the Cursillo properly according to the basic book of the Cursillo Movement, The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement, which is used universally as the correct manner and norm for conducting Cursillos.Top
|How big should a Cursillo Weekend team be?
One or two priests (Deacons/vowed Religious) as spiritual advisors, a team coordinator, three or four leaders, and one or two who are learning personal contact work (not giving talks). In other words, in the conference room there would be less than ten team members. The original Cursillo guidelines called for one team member for each ten candidates. (L.M. pg. 108)Top
|Who should be a leader on a Cursillo Weekend?
Someone who has the characteristics of a leader, who is a member of the School of Leaders, and has the time and ability to help the cursillistas in their fourth day through personal contact individually, and in the group reunions and Ultreyas.Top
|Can laity give the spiritual talks on a Cursillo weekend? Can Deacons be the team coordinator or give the lay talks?
Talks on the Cursillo Weekend are divided into two classes – the lay talks and the spiritual ones. The lay talks should be given by lay people and the spiritual ones by a priest, deacon or vowed religious. Priests, deacons and vowed religious should not give lay talks and neither should lay persons give spiritual talks. The lay person gives his/her own personal witness in a lay talk, while a priest, deacon or vowed religious, being identified with the Church in a special way, speak for and on behalf of the Church in their talks. Deacons and vowed religious may serve as spiritual advisors on weekends for the same reasons, but they may not occupy positions in the Movement reserved for laity, such as team coordinator for a weekend, lay director, etc. (National Secretariat – July, 1994)Top
|How should a talk be given on a Cursillo Weekend?
The National Secretariat supplies talk outlines for each talk. These should be used by the lay person to prepare his/her talk. Each talk makes certain key points which must be made. It is appropriate for each person who gives a talk to give personal witness from their own life experience, where it is called for in the outline. The witness has to be appropriate to the point being made. The witness is meant to complement the point being made. Each person should prepare his/her own version and update it according to events and witness what is current in his/her life. (L.M. pgs. 122-127)Top
|Why is it important that only persons from the School of Leaders be on a Cursillo Weekend team?
A Cursillo leader is not only a leader on a weekend but is responsible for Precursillo and Postcursillo leadership involving Ultreyas, group reunions, candidate selection and preparation. Beside that, he or she should be formed in the Christian life and live the Cursillo method. The School provides that formation and is the community of service which the Movement requires in order to function properly. Requiring team members to be members of the School of Leaders ensures that they receive proper formation and that they are leaders in all phases of the Movement and not just the Weekend. (L.M. pgs 55-58)Top
|Should team formation take place in the School or outside it?
Spiritual and doctrinal formation and training in methodology always takes place within the School of Leaders. This also allows the leaders to make their leaders’ group reunion together. Special team training for a particular weekend may take place outside of the School for the team itself, but it does not excuse non-attendance at the regular sessions of the School.Top
|What about serenades, mananitas, candlelight processions; are these part of the Cursillo Weekend?
These are not part of the Cursillo Weekend and were added locally and became traditional. For proper conversion and reflection, the weekend requires a quiet, prayerful atmosphere without outside distractions; the emphasis is on the candidate, not the needs of the outside cursillistas or even the team. “The participants on the weekend require isolation in order to build a united Christian community in only three days. Since the atmosphere must be reflective, prayerful and sincere, everything that is a distraction must be avoided, particularly any contact between the outside community and the Cursillo itself. Participants should be left at the door. Mingling between other cursillistas and the weekend’s participants is to be avoided since it interferes with the personal contact work by the spiritual advisor and team, work which began prior to the Cursillo. The greatest contribution the outside community can make to the Cursillo Weekend is to offer palanca for it and attend the closing, the initial point of contact between the outside community and the new one. Any contact between individuals who are not part of the team and the participants is to be avoided except during the closing. Secretariats should not provide opportunities for cursillistas to drop in and out of the Weekend, no matter what the excuse. If kitchen help is needed, it should be kept to a small group who should have minimum contact with the
Weekend participants. Allowing people to come in and out to offer palanca should be avoided. The same holds true for other practices, such as “serenades” or “mananitas.” If these must be done (and we advise against them), let them be done at the closing, which is the point of contact between the outside community and the “new” cursillistas. (L.M. pgs. 106-107)Top
|Are banners, love notes, flowers and cookies palanca?
Not really. Palanca is basically the prayers and sacrifices we make for someone or something. Prayer and self-denial are palanca. The others, while they may have the name palanca, are not. “A good yardstick of a Diocesan Movement is its attitude toward palanca, its overall focus on it, and how the spirit of it is incorporated in the lives of the spiritual advisors and lay leaders. In this regard, a concern for developing a spirit of prayer and self-denial should be the overriding factor.Top
|What about ‘individual’ palanca on the weekend?
The emphasis should be on general palanca – that is, the outside community offering prayers and sacrifices for the community that is being formed on the three days. Personal palanca (an individual sending a palanca letter to an individual) should be limited to that from a spouse or sponsor. All other individual palanca, if received at the weekend, should be put into the candidate’s packet that he/she will be taking home on Sunday night. (L.M. pg. 105).Top
|Why do we not have Cursillos for youth?
Various programs for youth have evolved from Cursillo, such as Teenagers Encounter Christ (TEC), Happening, Search, etc. However, the Cursillo Movement itself does not promote Cursillos for youth anymore than it promotes Cursillos for one particular group in the Church. Rather, it treats youth in the same manner as all prospective groups or environments: select the leaders or potential leaders, and prepare and bring them to Cursillo and reinsert them into their environment (in this case the youth one) and be leaders there.Top
|What is the most important element of the Cursillo Movement?
The Post Cursillo,because as Bonnin, the founder, noted, it is easy to convert persons to Christ, but it is much harder to get them to follow Him. The Cursillo Movement is basically a program of perseverance. The forms of the Post Cursillo,group reunion and Ultreya are meant to help persons persevere in living the Christian life in an ongoing way. But it is a choice; all the Cursillo Movement can do is offer them.Top
|What is the difference between a group and a reunion?
A group is the community of persons who comprise it. A reunion is the periodic gathering of the group. In the concept of ‘group reunion’, there is no reunion unless there is a group of persons to make one, and there is no group unless it makes a reunion.Top
|How big should a group be?
No more than 5 or 6. Otherwise it is a crowd, and besides taking too much time to make a reunion, the more people the more time it takes to develop the basic ingredient of friendship.Top
|How long should a reunion last?
At an Ultreya, 20-30 minutes. With a friendship group outside of an Ultreya, whatever is convenient for the members, usually one hour.Top
|Why are some people disillusioned by the group reunion?
Because they emphasize the mechanics of the reunion rather than its spirit, and because they fail to contribute to it the fruits of their life as a Christian in the past week. They come to the reunion to be nourished, rather than to nourish it with the fruits of their apostolic efforts. The testimony to the success of the group reunion from those who live it is sufficient to overcome any and all criticisms of those who have not lived it.Top
|What is the best way to get people into the sharing groups at Ultreya?
By leaders ‘suggesting’ that certain persons meet with other certain persons for whom they might have an affinity. There are two objectives: one, to promote general sharing in the Ultreya community among those who do not know each other well, using the Ultreya sharing format, and two, beginning the process of discovering friends so that a friendship group can be created outside of the Ultreya. (L.M. pg. 271)Top
|Why should the Ultreya be weekly instead of monthly?
Because the rhythm of life is lived on a daily and weekly basis. If the purpose of the Ultreya is to provide on-going formation and perseverance in a community setting, then monthly is too long apart for a proper realization of this; otherwise, why not have a requirement to attend monthly Mass instead of weekly?
The Ultreya is the counter-environment of Christian friendship realized in a concrete form once a week to combat the environment of the secular world. (L.M. pg. 280)Top
|Should Mass be part of the Ultreya or the Closing?
The general rule of thumb is that the Cursillo Movement should not be providing cursillistas with what they can receive in their own parishes. While there are occasions for the cursillistas to celebrate the Eucharist together, normally they should celebrate Mass as part of their parish ecclesial community. The Mass on the Sunday of the Cursillo Weekend is for the team and candidates in the weekend and not the outside community, and is scheduled for noon-time with that intention. (L.M. pg. 113)Top
|What is the background for the use of the term ‘Holiness-Formation-Evangelization?’
The work of revising the “Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement” book was a long and intense process involving a special international commission, with input from the National Secretariats of the many countries that have Cursillo. Basically, the intention was to update the book in the light of: 1. “Evangelization in the Modern World” (Evangelii Nuntiandi), Pope Paul VI’s Exhortation issued following the Synod of Bishops on the subject matter. 2. The “Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and the World” (Christifideles Laici), by Pope John Paul II following a similar Synod in 1988. The main thrust of these documents was to remind and teach the laity certain essentials, namely, their call to holiness, their need for formation, their place in the community of the Church, and their place in the world as evangelizers. The Cursillo Movement, keeping in step with the Church, has changed some of its traditional terminology to better reflect these essentials. These changes will be made in the Movement’s literature when it is reprinted or in new publications. What was previously called: Piety is now Holiness; Study is now Formation; Action is now Evangelization.Top
|What is meant by Cursillo mentality?
The Cursillo mentality is the criterion which the founders acquired in developing the Movement and which judges what is authentic in making the Movement a reality. Cursillo leaders are required to have this mentality, which is acquired by studying the official Cursillo literature, and the experience of living the Cursillo method in their own lives.Top
|What does primary apostolate mean?
After fulfilling my basic responsibilities to my family and work, it means the other time that I give to apostolic work of some particular kind. A Cursillo leader is expected to make the Cursillo Movement his or her primary (first) apostolate. In that way it is given a priority over other activities, including Church ones. (L.M. pg. 55)Top
|How important are numbers when it comes to the School of Leaders?
There ought to be enough to form a few teams, service the Ultreyas, and provide for personal contact work with the cursillistas. It is more important to have 20 fully committed, dedicated persons than 100 who are only half-committed.Top
|What is the format for the School of Leaders?
There is no concrete form, but there are essential elements that have to be incorporated for it to be considered genuine: Prayer Leaders’ Group Reunion Doctrinal Instruction Methodology (including technique)Top
|Why is the Leaders’ Group Reunion so important for the School of Leaders?
For two reasons: One, to form the community of the School by sharing, and two, to ensure that the work of the Cursillo Movement is done, by the leaders sharing and reviewing their work as leaders in the areas of Pre Cursillo,Cursillo Weekend and Post Cursillo. (L.M. pg. 52)Top
|How do you organize cursillistas to do something?
Cursillistas should not be organized to do anything except be faithful to their holiness, formation and evangelization and the perseverance form of the Cursillo Movement, namely, the group and Ultreya. As they do this, they will discover their own particular vocations in the Church and the world. We are not an organization and therefore do not organize cursillistas to do anything except evangelize the world.Top
|Who appoints spiritual advisors or members of the Secretariat?
Different Dioceses have different customs. In some, suitable candidates are proposed by the School Of Leaders for the Bishop’s approval. In others, the Secretariat selects candidates from the School for the Bishop’s approval. Whichever system is used, it should be a discerning one that ensures that only the best persons are selected who are capable of fulfilling the role and who still meet the criteria for being a good Cursillo leader.Top
|What can be done by the Diocesan Movement to combat the clergy shortage?
The present trend is to form a group of spiritual advisors made up of Priests, Deacons and vowed Religious who then share the responsibilities for the weekends, Ultreyas and Cursillo meetings among themselves. (L.M. pg. 244)Top
|What is the role of the National Episcopal Advisor?
The role is to be the liaison between the Cursillo Movement, specifically the National Secretariat, and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and to represent the Hierarchy on the National Secretariat. In this capacity the National Episcopal Advisor deals with the Diocesan Bishops in regard to the Cursillo Movement.Top
|What is the role of the National Spiritual Advisor?
The National Spiritual Advisor’s primary function is to meet the spiritual needs of the National Secretariat members at each meeting. Exercising his priestly role, he will be responsible for the spiritual and liturgical acts of the National Secretariat meetings and the Annual Reunion.Top
|What is the relationship of the Cursillo Movement to other renewal movements or ministries, such as Kairos, Walk to Emmaus, etc.?
The Cursillo Movement has no official relationship with any other movement and does not promote any one over the others. Experience shows that care must be taken not to promote them at the expense of our own aims and objectives. A number of Schools’ of Leaders and Ultreyas have reported their leaders and cursillistas being lured away by other programs. Leaders in the Cursillo Movement should restrict their activities to being leaders for the Cursillo Movement, otherwise the Movement can and has been used to promote other things. Cursillistas should be concerned with evangelizing the environments they came from rather than becoming involved in other ministries, unless of course, they are called there by the Holy Spirit.Top
|How is the Cursillo Movement related to the Church’s social teaching?
The Cursillo is not involved directly with any particular social justice work. Rather, it works to convert the persons in the different social levels of society so that they, in turn, may become evangelizers in those environments and, eventually, agents of social change because of the Gospel.Top
|Why does the Cursillo Movement not use more decals, lapel pins, bumper stickers, etc. to promote itself?
The reason is that we are a movement and we do not want to project the Cursillo Movement as an association of cursillistas or an organization. We believe that people who have made a Cursillo and have been changed by it should be like leaven in the Church and the world. What should distinguish them from others is the Christian witness of their lives and not ‘in group’ badges, pins or bumper stickers. These things only help to create impression that we are an elitist group with something that separates us from the rest of the family.Top
|Why does the Cursillo Movement use its own terminology, such as Ultreya, Palanca, Rollo, etc.?
These Spanish terms came with the Movement to the United States in 1957. They are helpful in a bi-lingual situation. However, except for the ones that cannot be successfully translated, such as Ultreya and Palanca, the proper English terms should be used. The Leaders’ Manual does not use, for example, the words Rollo or Rectora, but rather ‘talk’ and ‘team coordinator’.Top
|Where did “De Colores” come from?
The phrase “De Colores” is the title of a popular folk song which begins with these words and which has become very popular among cursillistas. Some have attempted to give this expression the status of a ritual, a symbol, or even read into it an expression of the state of conscience: They say “De Colores” to signify that they are in the state of grace. This has been done, however, without foundation. It is simply a song which was popular during the early days of the Cursillo Movement and which provided simple, innocent and even naive words which are used – and continue to be used – as a means of relaxation and amusement during the free periods of the Cursillo. Neither the song itself nor the phrase “De Colores” (or any other symbol) should be allowed to become an “in-group” expression separating cursillistas from others.Top