Short course enriches our faith for the long-haul

There is something romantic about a foreign language such as French, Spanish or Italian. For instance, I recently completed a local 'short course' on Christian spirituality; in Spain, where the course was founded, it has the exotic title 'Cursillo'. 

Beginning on Thursday night and concluding on a Sunday evening, a Cursillo weekend involves a series of talks presented by different members of the hosting team, small group discussions, meals, prayer and some of the Catholic sacraments, such as Mass and reconciliation.

As it was my first experience on a Cursillo weekend, I was among the seven participants known as 'candidates'. 

Surrounded by others, including Team Leaders Mike and Linda Norris and people from a range of parishes across our diocese (including Cessnock, Taree and Old Bar, Maitland and Newcastle) the group converged on the old Catalina hospital facility at Rathmines to take part in the weekend.

As a newcomer, I understand that the Cursillo Movement proposes no new type of spirituality, but offers a method through which one's spirituality may be developed, lived and shared in any area of human life where Christians are willing to dedicate their lives to God in an ongoing manner.

Some of the questions that it asked us to consider included: 

  • In today's world, can Christianity penetrate the many areas of secular life?
  • Can it live and grow there?   
  • Can it transform the world in a more fruitful way than in the past and in keeping with the times?  

Topics explored across the weekend, as part of the daily presentations by team members, included Ideal, Grace, The Lay Person in the Church, Faith, Piety, Study, The Sacraments, Action (Lay Evangelization), Obstacles to a life of Grace, Leaders, Study of the Environment, Life in Grace, Christianity in Action, The Cursillista beyond the Cursillo and Total Security (in Jesus). 

Each talk offered something precious and invaluable insights that helped deepen my faith and reminded me that when it comes to my place in the world, 'I am enough'. 

There were many "a-ha moments". Those glimpses into the reality and beauty of a relationship with God, His Son Jesus and the power and joy of the Christian faith, especially when it is shared with others.

The first stirrings of what was to become the Cursillo Movement began on the island of Majorca, Spain during the 1940s. The Spanish Civil War had ended in 1939, and the years after the Civil War were a time of ferment and growth in the Spanish Catholic Church. 

Cursillo, as we recognise it today, grew out of a series of preparatory courses on living one's life for Christ, given to those who would lead the young Christian Catholic men of Spain on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James at Compostela in 1948.

It was a sign of the significance of Cursillo, as a lay movement in the contemporary Catholic Church that more than 100 messages of support and prayer were received from around the world, dedicated to the team and candidates on the Cursillo weekend in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese. At the same time as our weekend was unfolding, 55 similar weekend experiences were taking place in various dioceses in other parts of the world. 

For more information about Cursillo and future weekends, please get in touch with the President of the Cursillo Secretariat in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, Greg Standing via

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