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What is Cursillo?



Tell me something new!


We have all heard of renewal movements. Probably most of us have groaned when a new pamphlet falls on our desk inviting us to go, or send some of our congregation to yet another means of "spiritual re-growth." Cursillo is also a type of renewal movement in the Catholic Church. It has a strong following among both laity and clergy. Here, we try to suggest a few reasons. But first, what exactly is Cursillo?


Cursillo is, primarily, a Christian outreach movement underpinned in a community setting through:

o   Prayer,

o   Reconciliation,

o   Study and

o   Worship

What is it?

Cursillo is a Spanish word meaning a short course, in this case a short course in Christianity. This short course lasts for 3 days (usually from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon).

Its theme is: What it actually means to be a Christian. There are 15 talks (10 given by laity, 5 by clergy) and five meditations, daily Eucharist and many small group discussions. It's fast, it's fun, and it focuses on what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. But it does not end there! After the 3-Day Cursillo small local groups offer friendship and support in living as a follower of Christ. These groups are open to anyone seeking support and encouragement in their Christian witness. How they operate is described more fully later on.



During the 3-Day Cursillo we try:


·        Living as a Christian community,

·        Fostering a caring attitude, and

·        An openness and acceptance of individuals

·        Wherever they are in their spiritual lives.

WHERE did Cursillo start?

As a result of anti-clericalism and civil war in 20th century Spain, the faith of the mass of people had taken a severe battering – religion was just for women and children! Pope Pius XI called for a renewal of faith and a return to Christian values. The Young Men’s Catholic Action in Spain thus began to plan a massive pilgrimage to Compostela . They put on courses to train the prilgrim leaders.

On the island of Mallorca, the pilgrim leaders met regularly after their courses, to pray, study and develop their understanding of what it really means to be a Christian. As a result of the action of the Holy Spirit on this group of young men, the Cursillo movement was born. Working with their parish priest they developed the ‘little courses’ (cursillos) and experienced a measure of success.

Real growth began with the appointment of Bishop Hervas to the Majorca diocese in 1947. At this stage the cursillos took on a new direction, and it was decided that they should be formalised. For this reason the first ‘official’ Cursillo presided over by Eduardo Bonnin in January 1949 holds a special place in history.

In 1966 Pope Paul VI gave Cursillo his official approval and in 1969 he appointed St. Paul as the patron saint of the Cursillo Movement.

Cursillo is now a world-wide movement – over 8 million people have made a 3-Day Cursillo.

Cursillo was first introduced into England in 1970, in Liverpool, and moved into southern England in 1986. It is also active in Scotland. Cursillo also flourishes in many Anglican Dioceses and it has been adopted by the Methodists who call it Walk to Emmaus. There is also an ecumenical version called Tres Dias (Three Days). In prisons it is known as Kairos (God’s Special Time).


We give people the time, nourished with the help of God’s grace, to discover their own potential and to discern what or where their ministry might be, both in the Church and in the world. On the Weekend we discover:

§  How to keep in touch with God and each other through prayer,

§  How to shape our minds and hearts with study;

§  How to take our faith out into the world in order to evangelise the places where we work, live, and meet other people.

Summarised as Holiness, Formation, and Evangelisation, these are the three lynch-pins of the Cursillo Method which is fully described on the 3-Day Cursillo. It is best summed up in the Cursillo saying: "Make a a friend...bring that friend to Christ".

Whatever our situation in life we can:

o   PRAY

o   STUDY where we are in the light of the Gospel

o   ACT upon the insights the Holy Spirit gives us

WHO is it for?

Cursillo is open to all who wish to explore their Christian faith and its implication for their lives and their membership of the church. Cursillo offers an opportunity to examine the depth of our faith and opens up the possibility of sensing a new path in life, or of a healing of past hurts which are hindering God’s will.

Many find a new joy in their faith. Cursillo aims to send people out into their parishes with a renewed faith, and a clearer idea of what God is asking of them. Cursillo offers itself as a servant of the Church in its mission of Outreach. As it does so, it relies on the Word of God in the Bible and seeks nourishment from the Eucharist and other sacraments.

AFTER the 3-Day Cursillo?

Cursillo attempts to help individuals be positive about their faith by a method which is practical and manageable for individual circumstances. This is done through small gatherings called Reunion Groups – three or four people who meet regularly to pray, to examine the way they have followed their Way of Life, and for mutual support and advice.

These groups are often formed from friendships made on 3-Day Cursillo, or from Christians in the local congregation. But they are not exclusive to those who have made a 3-Day Cursillo. Anyone seeking to deepen their faith and put it into more effective action is welcome. There are also monthly meetings of all local Reunion Groups which are run on similar lines.

Cursillo exists for the Church, and through the Church serves the world in which we all have our individual ministries as "yeast in the dough".

Interested? or would like to learn more then please e-mail:

Chris Sykes,

Tel: 07987 046985

3-Day Cursillos