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History of the Cursillo


The Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Catholic Church. The Spanish word Cursillo means short course and is often associated with a 3-Day weekend.  The proper name is Cursillo de Cristiandad (short course of Christianity).  However, there is much more to the Cursillo Movement than just a 3-Day weekend.

This Movement originated in Spain in the 1940's. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the young men of their city of Mallorca, Spain to know Christ better. It developed as they prayed and worked together and as they talked together, sharing their thoughts about the state of the world and the effectiveness of their efforts to bring the light of Christ to it. The story of the Cursillo Movement is exciting. It's filled with the adventure of new discoveries and works of outstanding dedication, tragic misunderstandings and setbacks, as well as impressive patience. These young men and the clergy who supported them endured many unpromising situations in the faith that God would work.

But it is even more an exciting story on the spiritual level. It is the story of how God taught a group of men how to work for Him in an effective way, a way that bears fruit. In the late 1940's the first Cursillo was given and the Cursillo Movement began.  The first Cursillo was neither a lucky accident nor a blueprint which came directly from heaven, but grew out of a process of development. The first leaders had been working together for some time trying to bring men to Christ so they could work together to Christianize the world.  It grew in the climate of spiritual renewal. It was developed by men of prayer who were seeking to serve the Lord and was formed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit working in men who had dedicated themselves to bringing others to a knowledge of Christ.

The Cursillo Movement came to birth in the movements of renewal that preceded the second Vatican Council. Vatican II was such a major event in the history of the modern Catholic Church that there is a certain tendency to date everything from the Council. But Vatican II was itself born out of an effort of spiritual and pastoral renewal that had begun years before. The liturgical movement, the scriptural renewal, Catholic Action and other movements of the lay apostolate had begun years before the Council. Everywhere in the Church, people were seeking to find ways of "bringing the Church to life in the hearts of men" (Romano Guardini).

The leaders worked as a team that prayed together, shared their Christian lives together, studied together, planned together, acted together and evaluated what they had done together. Together they worked at the task of forming Christian life among the young people in Majorca. Out of their common efforts, something new in the life of the Church was born. Church renewal, spiritual renewal, pastoral renewal, the pilgrim style, a pastoral plan, teamwork among leaders - the Cursillo Movement grew out of all these things. It developed not by accident nor through a clearly specified plan, but was an organic development of the efforts of a group of men who had dedicated themselves to the work of God.

Cursillo was brought to the United States in 1957 and then to Canada a few years later.  It is now flourishing throughout the world.