What is Cursillo?
“Anglican Cursillo is a movement of the Church providing a method by
which Christians are empowered to grow through prayer, study
and action and enabled to share God’s love with everyone.”
Cursillo offers to committed Christians a proven way of discipleship in which they are supported and encouraged. It begins with a three day weekend, after which the rest of your life is referred to as the “fourth day.” Some ‘pilgrims’ will attend a weekend and then have no further involvement, but most go on to make use of the Cursillo method which involves small group meetings on a regular basis, and less frequent bigger gatherings in a locality or diocese.
What is Cursillo NOT?
Cursillo is NOT a secret society, a sect, a breakaway movement or a private club. Rumours and allegations of such things are sually based on either a lack of information about what really goes on, or in some cases as a result of over-enthusiastic ‘cursillistas’ (those who have been on a weekend) returning with enormous excitement to a bemused congregation!
Is it “Official?”
Yes, Cursillo is diocese-based, and can only operate within a diocese with the Bishop’s permission and blessing. Because of the unique way that each weekend trains the leader of the next, Cursillo can only move into a new Diocese by being “gifted” from another – and this has to have the permission of both Bishops.
Why all the Spanish words?
Because Cursillo began in Spain, and it’s just a part of our rich heritage. And a bit of fun!
So, what happens on a three-day weekend?
The weekend usually begins on a Thursday or Friday evening and runs through to Sunday afternoon. The element of retreat from everyday life is important in making space for pilgrims to explore aspects of their own faith in the safe company of other pilgrims and staff (who are all former pilgrims.) Each weekend is identical in content, but each is unique due to those who are present. At its heart are fifteen short talks (each followed by discussion in small groups) and five biblical meditations, along with a daily Eucharist and various other activities and services.
Who runs the weekend?
On each weekend staff is an “Observing Lay Rector” who will be the actual “Lay Rector” on the next weekend. The Lay Rector brings their own personality to a set format, and are assisted by a number of cursillistas with specific roles. There are also two or more Cursillisa priests on each weekend, and in addition to being available for counsel and celebrating the Eucharist they are charged with delivering the meditations and five of the fifteen talks. The other ten talks are given by lay staff members – some of whom may never have done anything similar before.
And who is responsible at a Diocesan level?
The Bishop appoints a Diocesan Spiritual Advisor, and the fourth day community appoints a Lay Director. These serve for a period of three years along with other members of the Secretariat who act as the local governing body. At a national level all the secretariats of each diocese are accountable to the British Anglican Cursillo Council.
What are the benefits of the Three Day Weekend?
As a result of the weekends many Christians become more active in their Churches as they become more aware of their gifts. Pilgrims often come away from a weekend with a great enthusiasm and sense of empowerment that leads them into new forms of service, or renewed understanding and vigour in what they were already doing. So many lay talks at our gatherings begin with “I never thought I would be the one who….”
Will it take people away from my church?
It’s more likely to give them greater commitment within the local church – that has always been part of the intention since the early days in Spain.
Can anyone go on a weekend?
In theory, yes – any communicant member of the Church of England. In practice we encourage the inviting of those who are prayerfully thought to be at a stage and time when they will benefit most. This often means those who are asking questions of their spiritual direction at this time, or just feel there is something God may be leading them to. Cursillo is often the catalyst that opens up new directions for pilgrims. To this end, each new pilgrim is spiritually ‘sponsored’ by another cursillista who supports them in prayer and practical ways through the whole process.
Are there people for whom it is NOT appropriate?
We would generally recommend that Cursillo is not ideal for new Christians, but better suited to those who are already fairly secure in their faith (whether they are able to articulate that or not.) It is also not ideal for those who are in present or recent trauma such as bereavement or separation – they would most likely be better to wait a while. If in any doubt, contact the Diocesan Cursillo Spiritual Advisor.