Episcopal Cursillo of Oregon and Southwest Washington
Cursillo is a ministry in the Episcopal Church that helps Christians to deeply experience both the love of God and love of one another, in ways that empower them to share that love with the world. One estimate is that perhaps 1.5 million people have attended a Cursillo weekend in the USA and 8 to 10 Million worldwide, finding their faith nourished and expanded. A Cursillo weekend is designed to be a “short course” (cursillo in Spanish) of Christian life, giving participants the opportunity to experience what is basic to life as a Christian (prayer, worship, learning, and fellowship) and to help these same followers of Jesus discover and live out deeply satisfying lives of love and service to God. The original Cursillo program began in the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, and found such enthusiastic reception among members of other denominations that the “3 Day Weekend Movement” has expanded to include Episcopal Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus (Methodist), Via de Cristo (Lutheran), Tres Dias, and Kairos Prison Ministry, an ecumenical ministry that brings the Good News to those who are affected by incarceration.
Bishop Michael Hanley has praised the benefits of Cursillo, saying, “I made my Cursillo in 1981 in Oklahoma along with my wife, Marla. It was a powerful experience with the love of God in community. I recommend it to anyone interested in deepening their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. Yes, God can be encountered in many places and in many ways, but God is often most powerfully experienced in community. Cursillo provides a wonderful experience of the presence of God in community.”
A Cursillo weekend brings together a diverse group of participants and team members, from throughout the congregations of the Diocese of Oregon (and some from southwest Washington) for three days of listening, learning, singing, praying, sharing, eating, and laughing. What is experienced on the weekend then serves as a springboard to a life of ongoing spiritual development, in the company of others, and as an inspiration for a life of reaching out to the world with the love of Jesus Christ (known as the Fourth Day). Many are empowered to take on leadership roles in their congregations and ministry interests. Gatherings of Cursillo participants and friends are held around the Diocese, and are referred to as Group Reunions and Ultreyas (a Spanish term of encouragement).
What people take away from Cursillo weekends and group participation is often a new-found ability to talk openly and easily about what God is doing in their lives, and what they are doing to build up the Kingdom of God. And the confidence to share both the joys and the troubles of their lives. These are often made easier when people are actually experiencing being loved by God and by their fellow believers. As one participant put it, “Before my Cursillo, I was pretty sure God loved me, but I wasn’t too sure about the rest of you. Now I know both for sure.” And others find that Cursillo reminds them that God loves laughter, including one woman who exclaimed that she had more fun at Cursillo than she did on her honeymoon.