Cursillo Movement
Movimiento de Cursillos de Cristiandad
Diocese of Sacramento/Diocesis de Sacramento

Cursillos de Cristiandad (Short Course of Christianity) in English is a lay movement within the Diocese of Sacramento. Cursillo is a short course in Christianity. The movement operates under the approval of the Bishop of Sacramento. The Cursillo in English has Women's and Men's weekends. For applications and information, please call the Pastoral Center in Sacramento at 916.733.0181. Cursillos de Cristiandad en Espanol no se proclama un sistema de vida o de valores pero senala el camino por el cual cristo puede llegar a ser el centor de nuestras vidas. El medoto ayuda a toda persona a encontrarse con Cristo y consigo mismo, failita el inicio y el progreso de la conversion, poniendolo en contacfto con Cristo y con los hermanos. Para informacion en la zona #3: al Centro Pastoral en Sacramento, 916.733.0181.

Purpose of the Movement
What is the Cursillo Movement
History of the Movement
The Cursillo Weekend
After the Weekend


The purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to bring about a change in the environments. The Cursillo Movement is a deliberate act to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Cursillistas (those that have gone through the 3-Days and are living the Cursillo method) become agents for change in their families, work situations, neighborhoods, social gatherings, etc. Cursillistas are the part of the Christian community (communal) that links together with others (teamwork) to bring Jesus Christ to the world.
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Cursillo literature cites several different definitions for the purpose of the Cursillo Movement. While the wording (definitions) may vary, the idea is the same. This is due, in part, to the fact that the purpose of Cursillo is multi faceted. No one definition can truly explain what Cursillo is. However, all the definitions can give a much richer meaning to the purpose of Cursillo.

  • One definition states: "The purpose (or goal) of the Movement is to make Christian community possible in neighborhoods, parishes, work situations and other places where people live the greater part of their lives. It makes possible for anyone in the world to live a Christian life in a natural way."
  • Another definition lists the purpose of the Cursillo Movement as: "The leavening of environments with the Gospel." In other words, changing the places we spend time by being Christlike in our thoughts, words, and actions.
  • Still another definition states: "Since it is a movement of the Church, the Cursillo Movement has the same apostolic purpose as the Church herself. And the Church, as Pope Paul VI told us, exists to evangelize."
  • There is yet another definition that describes the purpose as such: "The Cursillo Movement is 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." These "core groups" are now referred to as "Environmental Groups."
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The Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Catholic Church. The name Cursillo is Spanish, meaning short course, and is often associated with a 3-Day weekend - which is only one aspect of the Cursillo Movement. The proper name is Cursillo de Cristiandad (short course of Christianity). There is much more to the Cursillo Movement than just a 3-Day weekend.

This Movement evolved from Spain, where it got its origin, in the 1940s. God taught a group of men how to work for Him in an effective way, a way that bears fruit. In the late 1940s, the first Cursillo was given and the Cursillo Movement began. Those who make Cursillo's today would find much of the first Cursillo familiar. The Cursillo has been refined and changed somewhat, but today's Cursillo weekend remains basically the same as those first Cursillo's.

At first, the Cursillo's were just "little courses" (little course is the literal meaning of the Spanish word - Cursillo) given to participants as a way of forming them so they could become effective apostles.

The first Cursillo in the United States was held in Waco, Texas, in 1957. The key figures in the beginning were Father Gabriel Fernandez and two airmen from Spain, Bernardo Vadell and Agustin Palomino, who were training with the United States Air Force. Father Gabriel had arrived in Waco in 1955 from Spain where he had made his three days under two of the founders of the movement, Father Juan Capo and Eduardo Bonnin. The priest and the airmen were responsible for putting on the first two weekends in Waco.In 1959, the Cursillo spread throughout Texas and to Phoenix, Arizona. In August of that year the first national convention of spiritual directors was held, and Ultreya magazine began publication. In 1960, the growth of the Cursillo quickened in the Southwest, and weekends were held for the first time in the East in New York City and Lorain, Ohio. Until 1961, all weekends were held in Spanish. That year the first English-speaking weekend was held in San Angelo, Texas. Also in 1961, first weekends were held in San Francisco, California; Gary, Indiana; Lansing, Michigan; and Gallup, New Mexico. By 1962, twenty-five more English-speaking weekends had been held.

In 1962, the Cursillo Movement came to the Eastern United States. Weekends were held in Cincinnati, Brooklyn, Saginaw, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, Baltimore, Grand Rapids, Kansas City and Boston. In the West, the first weekends were held in Monterey, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Pueblo and Yakima. The movement spread rapidly with the early centers carrying the Cursillo to nearby dioceses. As of 1981, almost all of the 160 dioceses in the United States had introduced the Cursillo Movement.

The Cursillo Movement in the United States was organized on a national basis in 1965. At this meeting a National Secretariat was organized, and a National Cursillo Office (currently in Dallas, Texas) was established. The Cursillo Movement has the support of the vast majority of the American hierarchy. It is joined to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops through an official liaison in the person of Most Rev. James S. Sullivan, Bishop of Fargo, and through the Bishops' Secretariat for the Laity in Washington, D.C.

Today, it is a worldwide movement with centers in nearly all South and Central American countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several African countries. The movement is a member of the International Catholic Organizations of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome. In 1980, the Cursillo Movement established an international office, the OMCC (Organismo Mundial de Cursillo's de Cristiandad), in Santo Domingo to coordinate the three existing international working groups of Latin America, Europe and the International English Language Group. The international leaders of the movement meet periodically to further its work.
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Each day of the Cursillo Weekend begins with Morning Prayers and ends with Night Prayers. Mass is celebrated daily (except Thursday). Each participant should be aware that, since prayer is such an intricate part of the Cursillo Movement, there will be other cursillistas that will be continually praying and offering up sacrifices - for the success of the Cursillo Weekend. There will be proper nourishment provided and also adequate rest periods. Those that have special needs, such as a particular diet or physical needs, will be attended to properly.

This is a time to get to know each other and to have an overview of the Cursillo Weekend. This is also the retreat phase of the Cursillo Weekend, which is designed "To awaken the moral consciences of the participants, beginning with an analysis of their own lives and causing them to desire to encounter God." The retreat phase (done in silence and ends Friday morning after Mass) includes three meditations and "The Way of the Cross." The meditations are: 1) Know Yourself, 2) The Prodigal Son, and 3) The Three Glances of Christ (this is given Friday morning).

The focus of Friday should be to help each participant to have a better understanding of themselves. Friday should help them discover what motivates them in different situations.
During this day the participants will hear five presentations. Three presentations will be given by members of the laity and they are: 1) Ideals, 2) The Layperson as the Church in the World, and 3) Holiness. The other two presentations will be given by the Spiritual Directors and they are: 1) Grace and 2) Faith. While the presentations provide the participants with information and witnessed experiences, it is the table discussions (following each presentation) that prove to be one of the real dynamics of the Weekend. The sharing, which takes place during the table discussions, provides the participants with an opportunity to share their own insights about the presentation. Furthermore, the participants have the opportunity to hear how other participants perceived that same presentation.
After each presentation and table discussions, the participants will draft a written summary of the presentation and table discussion. Later the participants will have an opportunity to graphically illustrate their ideas of the presentations and table discussions. That evening, each table group will share their summaries and graphic illustrations with the other participants and team members.

The focus for Saturday is to combine that fully realized self (that they learned about Friday) with a wonderful and loving God. Saturday helps the participants to understand the current relationship that they have with God and should spawn a desire for a still deeper and fuller relationship with God.
The schedule for Saturday follows the same format as Friday. Again, there are three laity presentations entitled: 1) Formation, 2) Evangelization, and 3) Leaders. As with Friday's schedule, there are also two Spiritual Director presentations entitled: 1) Sacraments, and 2) Obstacles to a Life of Grace. Table discussions again play a very dynamic role in generating various insights concerning the presentations. The summaries (of each presentation) and the graphic illustrations are shared with all, just like on Friday.

The focus for Sunday is the understanding of ourselves, our relationship with God, and how we can help Him in fulfilling His Will. We learn what environments we belong to and how we can affect those environments.
The same format is used on Sunday, except there is only one Spiritual Director presentation - Christian Life. There are the usual three laity presentations, which are: 1) Study and Evangelization of the Environments, 2) Christian Community, and 3) Group Reunion and Ultreya.
Sunday night at the Clausura (Closing), the participants come face to face with the larger Cursillo Community that has been so supportive during the entire weekend. It is during this meeting that the participants enter this Cursillo Community.
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The Cursillo Movement realizes that it will not be an easy task for us to try to bring Christ to our environments. Therefore, the Cursillo Movement has two very important tools to assist each of us. These tools are the Group Reunion and the Ultreya.
The Group Reunion is a small group of Cursillo friends that meet on a regular basis. The purpose of this meeting is to share with one another the growth that has taken place within each of us. We share our spiritual growth as well as our growth in becoming a person who strives to bring a Christ-like attitude to our environments. This meeting is referred to as a Friendship Group.
As we make attempts to bring Christ into our various environments, we will sometimes become frustrated. The group Reunion also provides the continual support we need in order to persevere as a part of God's plan.
The Ultreya (Spanish word meaning Onward) is the larger Cursillo community. It is the time for the members of the Group Reunions to meet with members of other Group Reunions. The Ultreya is also beneficial in providing the support and encouragement that each of us needs.
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All above background information courtesy of the National Cursillo Center (


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