March 27, 2019 // Bishop

Cursillo gives women the tools to spread Christ’s love

When Christine Koors attended a Cursillo weekend 18 years ago in Indianapolis, it changed her life.

“It was just a newfound relationship with Christ,” she said. “I knew I had a relationship with Him, but now I actually call Him my friend.”

She wanted everyone to find that relationship and, as rectora — retreat leader — of the recent Cursillo weekend at St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington, she and her team led 32 women from across the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in deepening their friendship with Christ.

The women celebrated Mass on the final day of the retreat with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who sent them on their way with an exhortation to share that friendship with others.

“The most important thing is that you go forth from here with the grace that you have received to spread the love of Christ with your families, in your homes, in your places of work,” he said. “We’re counting on you. God’s counting on you.”

Cursillo, pronounced “ker-see-yoh,” is a Spanish word literally translated as “short course.” The name is evidence of its roots in Spain, where it began in 1949 with a goal of bringing young men to know Christ better. Cursillo weekends now are held throughout the world for both men and women.

Ann Gray leads the responsorial psalm during Mass.

The women who gathered at St. Felix March 21-24 spent their time in prayer, attending Mass and adoration, participating in reconciliation and listening to more than a dozen priests and lay people reflecting on grace, growing in piety and taking action to share their faith with others.

The final day of the retreat fell on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, when Mary learned that she would become the mother of the Son of God.

“Tomorrow’s a beautiful feast,” Bishop Rhoades told the women during the final Mass. “I think of that feast as you go forth today, hopefully with the spirit of Mary, who prayed those beautiful words. She was the most perfect disciple of her Son. ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to Your word.’

“I pray you go forth from here with that obedient faith of Mary, with your hearts open to the will of God in your lives,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Participants in a women’s Cursillo weekend at St. Felix Catholic Center, in Huntington, pray during Mass on Sunday, March 24, the final day of the weekend. — Photos by Cindy Klepper

That’s what the weekend is all about, according to Koors, a Chicago native who lived in Carmel for 20 years before moving to Fort Wayne five years ago

“When you make a weekend, you have the love of Christ and you want to spread that to everyone. “You’re making friends, you’re being a friend, you’re bringing friends to Christ. The Holy Spirit is in charge.”

Koors’ own Cursillo weekend left her wanting more.

“The love of the women there is so contagious. It was like a taste of heaven to me. I didn’t want to leave … I wanted to deepen my faith. I wanted to study more.”

One of the goals of a Cursillo weekend is that the participants form small groups that will continue to meet weekly, helping each other grow in faith by reflecting on Christ’s presence in their lives and making plans to share that presence with others the following week, Koors said.

After moving from Carmel to Fort Wayne, Koors missed her group so much that she started her own group in her new hometown. Those group meetings support her and the other members in spreading the love of Christ.

“It helped me not be shy in my evangelization, just planting the seeds of God’s faith,” she said. Evangelization can happen anywhere, even at the grocery store, she noted, and can be as simple as wearing a crucifix or a Mary medal.

“If everyone would follow the Cursillo method, if every Catholic knew about it, Christ’s love would be an overabundance. I just can’t live without it.”

St. Felix will be the site of several more Cursillo weekends for both women and men throughout the year.

Women from the Cursillo weekend retreat gather on the altar at St. Felix.

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