What is Cursillo?

The Cursillo in Christianity is primarily a lay movement. It is an instrument of renewal by which Christianity can permeate, live and grow in today’s world. It proposes no new type of spirituality but a method through which one’s spirituality can be strengthened, lived and shared in all areas of one’s environment.

How it Happens

A Cursillo weekend begins on Thursday evening and end on Sunday night. During the three days the participants listen to the gospel message broken down into fifteen short other. Each talk is followed by a period of small group discussions. The teachings of Christ are presented in an atmosphere of warmth, joy, and fellowship. Music and skits provide entertainment.


The local Cursillo, sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria reflects Roman Catholic theology, but is broad based in its Christian message. The protestant clergy is included in each Cursillo Team which presents the weekend, and lay person of all religious affiliations participate. There is no pressure on participants to take part in any religious service in with the would not feel comfortable. Out of the blending of personalities, religious denominations and occupations that develops a respect for each others differences, and an appreciation of the common search for a fully christian life.

“Forth Day”

The program recognizes the continuing need for support in a Cursillsta’s “forth day” – the rest of one’s life. A group Cursillista is urged to join a group reunion. This is a brief weekly meeting of four or five fellow Cursillistas. These individuals review their past week, sharing how Christ has touched them, their Christians achievements or disappointments, and their progress in the Cursillo method of prayer, study and action.


Ultreyas (Spanish for “onward”) are held monthly. They are reunions of the Cursillo community at-large and are open to invite guests. They afford Cursillistas and opportunity to meet, pray and socialize with others who are dedicated to living a Christian life. They also provide support for a Cursillista’s efforts to bring Christ’s message to others in his environment.

Spanish Origin

Cursillo (pronounced “kur-see-yo”) is a spanish word meaning short course – short course in Christianity. The Cursillo started in Spain in the late 1940s and spread throughout the Spanish speaking countries of the world. It can to the United States in 1957 when Spanish Air Cadets, training in Texas, held a Cursillo weekend for a group of Spanish-Speaking men. The first English language Cursillo was help in 1961 in San Angelo, Texas and that year, the movement spread to a dozen other states , including Illinois.
The movement was introduced in the peoria diocese in 1964 where it is ecumenical, open to all faiths. Local leaders have helped established similar national programs in the Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran churches, and a prison ministry program is an additional out growth of the Peoria Cursillo movement.

Once in a Lifetime

A Cursillo is made only once in a lifetime, therefore is not considered a substitute for a retreat. Actually a Cursillo experience makes subsequent retreats more profitable, and Cursillistas re urged to make regular retreats. Men and women make separate Cursillo, and in the case of married couples, a husband’s weekend is usually scheduled before a wife’s. A participant should be sponsored by someone who has made a Cursillo.


It is difficult to explain what the Cursillo does for a person, or what happens over the weekend. Since each person comes to the Cursillo from a different place in time and a different relationship with God, it is understandable that each will respond differently to the material presented and the experience of community living in a Christian atmosphere. For some, it is a total turnabout in their lives; for others, it is a grand awaking; for yet others it is an enrichment of what they have already known and have been living. We do not promise anything or judge anyone – we simply offer the program and rely on the grace of God and the openness of the individual to produce its benefits.


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