Ron Busch
Freelance Writer
September 27, 2017 // Special

Cursillo men challenged to develop lives of conviction

Ron Busch
Freelance Writer

The Cursillo movement is a lay movement within the Catholic Church. Spanish for “a little course,” it was originally designed to assist in the training of the pilgrim guides who led believers along a pilgrimage path leading to the burial place of St. James in Spain.

Involvement in Cursillo took on new meaning when a zealous Catholic evangelist, Eduardo Bonnin Aguilo, got involved in the 1940s and vigorously promoted the Cursillo retreats, in time enabling them to flourish throughout the world. Bonnin’s involvement is viewed as the foundation of the current movement. His mentality was based on three principles: the love of God, friendship and the person.

From the beginning the movement has been interested in looking for the “faraways” who exist at the peripheries of the church, and including them in the Catholic faith. This can be tied to Pope Francis’ emphasis on the need to reach those Catholics found on the peripheries.              

The website explains that “Cursillos in Christianity is a Movement which, by its own Method, attempts from within the Church, to give life to the essential Christian truths in the singularity, originality and creativity of the person. In discovering their potential and accepting their limitations, they will direct their freedom with their conviction, reinforce their will with decisiveness and direct their friendship with the virtue of constancy in their day-to-day life, personally and with others.”

The men’s Cursillo group with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Father Drew Curry at St. Felix Catholic Center at Huntington. — Ron Busch

The Cursillo movement is typically introduced over a Thursday evening to Sunday three-day weekend. Religious and lay personnel present a series of talks to the candidates and the group calls upon the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and guidance.  The series of talks are discussed in small groups as the team and candidates live as a small Christian community. The talks and discussions cover topics including: the layperson’s role within the church, the meaning of grace and sacraments, the importance of prayer, and the study of God. Living in a Christian community is a vital component of the experience, so that the participants learn how to bring Christ to others, how that can transform one’s living environment and the importance of supporting one another as we attempt to live a Christian life.

Typically the candidates pray together, attend daily Mass and can receive the sacrament of reconciliation. By weekend’s end the candidates experience a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and a better understanding of the Holy Spirit’s power. They leave the weekend knowing that they have been called to spread God’s Word.

A Cursillo weekend was recently completed by a group of men within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The weekend, led by Father Drew Curry of St. Robert Bellarmine in North Manchester, concluded with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington, followed by a luncheon. The Mass took place at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24.

The bishop’s homily focused on the life and death of Blessed Father Stanley Francis Rother, the first U.S.-born priest to be “beatified” or named “blessed.” Bishop Rhoades spoke of Father Rother’s Oklahoma farm upbringing and discernment into the priesthood and how Father Rother was assigned, at his own request, as a missionary priest in the rural highlands of southwest Guatemala. He was able to use his farming skills to assist the people of the region and was known as a very loving and caring priest.

Civil War broke out and eventually spread to the mountainous region. Father Rother reluctantly returned to Oklahoma when his name appeared on a “death list,” but he felt compelled to continue his ministry in Guatemala, reasoning that, “a shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.” Shortly after arriving back in Guatemala, on July 28, 1981, Father Rother was killed by rebels.

Bishop Rhoades upheld Blessed Father Rother as a model for priests and those in religious life. “Are we willing to suffer for Christ? Are we willing to dedicate our life to Him?” he asked. The bishop concluded that “we are all called, no matter the difficulty or situation,” issuing the same spiritual challenge to the men of the Cursillo retreat who were gathered before him.

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