The Cursillo Ministry in the Diocese of Fond du Lac is led by a Spiritual Director, a Lay Director, and a team of lay and clergy representatives known as "The Secretariat". All of us serve under the guidance and direction of our Bishop, Matthew Gunter. The focus of our ministry is the empowerment of both clergy and lay people to carry out the mission of "The Jesus Movement" in the Church and especially in the world outside the Church.
What Is Cursillo?
Cursillo is a movement of the church. Its purpose is to help those in the church understand their individual callings to be Christian Leaders. The leadership may be exercised in work situations, in the family and social life, in leisure activities, and within the Church environment. Leadership, in Cursillo, does not mean power over others, but influence on others; all of us need to be aware that we can exert a positive influence on those around us.
What is the Goal of Cursillo?
The goal of Cursillo is the goal of the Church: to bring all to Christ. This is done when informed, trained leaders set out with the support of others having a similar commitment.
What does Cursillo do?
It helps to renew and deepen Christian commitment. Cursillo is one of many renewal movements. Many people have said Cursillo provides an important learning experience which causes many to feel like newly made Christians with a purpose and with support.
What is the Cursillo Ministry About?
Cursillo is patterned on Jesus’ own example. He searched out and called a small group of potential leaders (pre-Cursillo); He trained them by word and example and inspired them with a vision (Cursillo Three-Day Weekend); He linked them together and sent them out into the world to bring the world to Him (post-Cursillo or the Fourth Day).
During this period, sponsors (i.e. those individuals that have been to the three-day Cursillo weekend and are living the Fourth Day) identify those Episcopalians who are leading an active Christian life and are a living witness to their love for Christ, recommending their candidacy. It is also the period that selected candidates are informed of what to expect at the three-day weekend and assisted in appropriate preparations.
The Three-Day Weekend
The Cursillo weekend brings together a diverse group of Episcopalians to share the richness of many modes of worship and to broaden each one’s appreciation for our Church. Lay people conduct the weekend with two or three members of the clergy functioning as spiritual advisors. Cursillo presumes that those who attend are already well grounded in the faith. It is not intended to be a conversion experience but an enriching and deepening of what is already there. It often provides new insights into our faith as well as fostering ministry among lay people.
The weekend begins Thursday evening spent in the Chapel with meditations, discussions, and Compline. Then blessed silence is kept until after the worship on Friday morning. After breakfast participants are assigned to table groups for the weekend. The three days are filled with talks and group discussions with emphasis on the doctrine of Grace, the Sacraments, and the great Cursillo tripod: Piety, Study, and Action. Plus there is fellowship, singing, good food, and time for privacy, meditation, prayer, and walks. Eucharist is celebrated each day.
Post-Cursillo or Fourth Day
The Cursillo weekend is not an end to itself. It is a starting point that lasts the rest of your life. It is a springboard to a long-range practice of the Baptismal Covenant in the life of the Church called the Fourth Day. The Fourth Day is composed of three major elements:
I. The Group Reunion
The heart of Cursillo, is a small group of friends (usually 3-5) who meet weekly, and who hold each other accountable for their spiritual journey. They report on their piety, their study, and their apostolic action. A bonding develops that institutes a strong support group for life.
II. The Ultreya
Usually held monthly, and is a "reunion of the reunions". It provides support and builds community by allowing the sharing of communal experiences.
III. Spiritual Direction
An important element of the Cursillo Movement. It is a commitment to seek out skilled lay persons or cleric for spiritual direction to provide help in deepening their union with Christ.
Who We Are
The Cursillo in the Diocese of Fond du Lac (named “Monarch”) was first held at Trinity Church in Oshkosh in the fall of 1981. The team of people presenting the weekend included many from the Diocese of Milwaukee, many from Fond du Lac who had experienced the Cursillo somewhere else, and even a few Roman Catholics. The Monarch movement of the Diocese of Fond du Lac paid it forward by assisting in the foundation of the Lutheran Via De Cristo (their version of Cursillo) and by assisting the Diocese of Eau Claire in restarting their movement after a 10 year hiatus.
For the first 24 years (Monarch 1 through 59), the Cursillos were held in many parishes throughout the Diocese:
Most of these weekends were segregated. A men’s weekend would be followed by one for women a week later. The first coed weekend was held in 1997 in Sheboygan. We alternated between coed and segregated weekends for several years after that.
Since 2005, the Cursillos have been held in retreat centers, first at Lion’s Camp, Rosholt; then at Nature’s Edge, Waupaca. In 2008, we found Spencer Lake Christian Center in Waupaca and have been there ever since. All of the weekends at the retreat centers have been coed.
History of Cursillo
The first Cursillos developed in the Roman Catholic Church in Mallorca, Spain, in the late 1940s. Under the leadership of their bishop, several laymen began to formulate a way to draw active laymen into the work of "Christianizing" the everyday life settings where they lived.
Eventually, the Cursillo Method found interested parties in the United States. The first Cursillo Three-Day Weekend in the United States was held in Waco, Texas, in 1957. At first, these were still held in the Spanish language, and were available only to Roman Catholics. The first English speaking weekend was in 1961 in San Angelo, Texas. In time a few Episcopalians were invited to participate in the weekends.
The first official Three-Day Weekend in the Episcopal Church was conducted with help from Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa in 1970. Soon, weekends were being held in various parts of the country. The first Episcopal Cursillo Ministry Seminar was held in 1975 in the Diocese of Dallas. The Episcopal Cursillo Ministry Committee was formed in Atlanta in 1979.
A common aspect of the history of Cursillo shared by both Roman Catholics and Episcopalians was the fascination with the Three-Day Weekends. For this reason, in many places the Cursillo name was associated only with such weekend experiences. However, deeper study revealed that the Cursillo Method involved much more than just "putting on weekends." This has caused considerable development within both ecclesial communities, resulting in a better appreciation for what Cursillo is and a sharper, clearer understanding of how to apply the Cursillo Method -- philosophically and practically.
Today, that development is proceeding. Such development is characterized by a return to the roots of the movement, and a more comprehensive attempt to define the purpose of the movement in simple, cohesive terms. Cursillo is emerging as a mature instrument in the hands of committed clergy and lay Christians to empower the "ministry of the laity."