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Past Cursillo Weekends


History of the Movement in the Diocese:

A father wanting to keep his son occupied cut a picture of the world out of a magazine and made a jig saw puzzle of it.  Much to the surprise of the father the boy brought the completed puzzle back within a few minutes.  The father asked how he had done it so quickly.  The boy replied, "There was a man on the back and when I put him together the world came together too."

In a sense that is why the Cursillo movement came into being.  In 1940 Pope Pius XII, recognizing a decline in the morality of the world, challenged Church leaders to make every effort possible to bring people back to Christian values: to put the world back together.  The Young Catholic Action group in Spain responded to this challenge by inviting 100,000 young men and women on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. James the Apostle.  To prepare for the pilgrimage other groups throughout Spain began efforts of renewal.  To provide training for the leaders, weeklong courses were held which were called Cursillos (short courses).  These were good preparation periods for the pilgrimage kit the leaders realized they would need a follow-up after the pilgrimage to insure the Pope's message would be carried out.  It was decided there needed to be a Cursillo of shorter duration - thus the birth of the three-day Cursillo as we have today.

The basic purpose of the Cursillo at that time was to penetrate the environments and bring the world back to Christ as is the purpose today.  Gradually, these Cursillo groups began to separate from the Catholic Action and, in 1950, Edurdo Bonnin became Chairman of the Cursillo movement.  When these concerned Catholic men came together, they were not concerned about their own piety, nor did they plan to study the Bible, nor form a prayer group - as important as they are. They were concerned about the world in which they lived their environment.  They saw a world turned away from God, from Christ and His Church.  Life was no longer Christian - their purpose was to penetrate their environments and bring them back to God.

The Cursillo movement is world wide with centers in most countries. In 1957 the first Cursillo in the United States was held in Waco, TX with a priest and two Spanish Air Force trainees as the key figures.  The Cursillo movement soon spread within Texas, then to neighboring states in the southwest and in 1961 the first English-speaking Cursillo was held.  By the end of that year, the Cursillo movement came to the Midwest.

In December of l963, Fr Bill Alcuin asked five men who were involved in the Diocesan Retreat movement to make a Cursillo in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee---Ed Gagnon, Mike Ariens, Lyle Becker, Joe DuPont, and John Steckart.  In 1965, these five men with the help of five men from Milwaukee put on the first Cursillo in the Green Bay diocese.  The following year the first women's Cursillo was held with Jean Frederick as Rector and Joanie Steckart was Vice-rector.

In the beginning, ten Cursillos a year were held, and now we have four.  The basic format of the Cursillo weekend has remained constant but as in all things, changes and updates have been made. Remember, the first Cursillos were pre-Vatican Council.

We have been fortunate in our diocese to have the blessing of our bishops and priests.  In 2015, we celebrated 50 years of the Cursillo movement.  There have been 250+ weekends held with over 7000+ Cursillistas meeting the challenge of Pope Pius XII to penetrate our environments and bring the world back to Christ.