The word ‘Cursillo’ is Spanish and means ‘a short course.’ The original Cursillos were three days long, usually measured from sunset to sunset and usually from Thursday to Sunday. The British Anglican Cursillo Council agreed in recent years to trial a more condensed timetable to fit the course into a normal weekend – Friday evening to Sunday late afternoon. Both formats are currently in use across the dioceses and are equally valid.
In both cases the course includes fifteen short talks, mostly from lay people, and mostly followed by a short time for discussion in small groups. The course is led by a “Lay Rector” and most of the leaders are lay people, but there are always two or more clergy who lead the worship, give some of the talks, and lead the whole group in five short reflections styled “meditations.”
in both formats the time is notionally divided into three ‘days’ or phases:
- The first phase concentrates on looking inwards – What drives my life? What is my true response to God? Where am I in my relationship with God?
- The second phase invites us to be looking upwards – Who is Christ? How can I develop my relationship with him? What can I become with a closer relationship?
- The third phase leads us into looking outwards – Where am I called to be an apostle? How can we work together for Christ? How can we help each other?
The course is residential, and can’t be attended on a day-to-day basis, or divided up over a longer period of time. It’s important that we have this time together as a group of supportive, like-minded Christians to explore and worship free from the concerns and pressures of everyday life. The ‘staff’ (all of whom have been on the course themselves previously) will do all they can to make your Cursillo a comfortable and enjoyable time of refreshment and re-creation.
Cursillo arose out of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the 1940’s, and we often refer to those on the course as ‘pilgrims.’ People undertake pilgrimages as a matter of personal choice, and Cursillo does not involve coercion or persuasion – we are not a sect or a ‘para-church,’ we simply offer an opportunity for open exploration and an introduction to the ‘Cursillo method.’ Whether you choose to continue in the method after the weekend is entirely your own decision, and there is no expectation of a specific response. As Jesus says in Revelation ch.3 “20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”