The Rev Thack Dyson on Cursillo
Cursillo ("Cur see yo") is a three-day weekend that introduces people to simple methods for nurturing and growing their relationships with Christ. It provides an experience of living in a Christian community centered in worship, prayer, study of scripture and interaction with other Christians. Its mission is to build up our parish churches by encouraging and empowering its members to prepare for doing the work of the church- the spreading of the Gospel.
Cursillo has no political or liturgical agenda. It encourages being open to God and honest with self. It invites people to worship and respond as they would at their home churches. Participants are not pressured to say or do anything that makes them uncomfortable. They are invited to hear and discuss talks given by lay people and priests, and to take part in worship using the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Although such a program may not sound like fun, it often includes a lot of laughter, joy and love.
Why go? It is free. It is relaxing. It is fun. It is a rare opportunity to spend three days of undistracted attention to what God has to say to us. If you ask people who have been, most will tell you that it was a very positive and valuable experience. Many will tell you that it was a starting point for important changes in their relationships with Christ.
Cursillo is a Spanish word for a "short course". It began before World War II in the Catholic Church in Spain, and is now practiced around the world in many other Christian churches including Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodists and Presbyterians. The Central Gulf Coast Episcopal Cursillo began in 1978. Since then more than 3000 people have attended 123 weekends. Cursillo is sponsored by our Diocese and supported by our Bishop. It is conducted by lay people and Episcopal priests who have been through the weekend, and is attended by participants from Episcopal churches throughout the diocese.
Please consider attending the weekend. Ask your friends and fellow parishioners who have been. Ask your rector. Pray about it. What have you got to lose? What do you want to gain?
The following is an excerpt published in the Tentmaker Newsletter of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Daphne by The Rev. Thack Dyson, March 16, 2005:
Cursillo is a movement that helps people to learn how to live a Christian life. Beginning with a three-day retreat starting on Thursday night, the participants will hear a number of talks that:
Help Christians measure the depth of their faith to find its reality and richness;
Teach Christians how to deepen their faith through prayer, study and action; and
Inspire Christians to get on with their mission in the world by hearing and heeding God's call.
The weekend is not just a continuous series of talks, however. It is restful, prayerful, and a LOT OF FUN! You are literally waited on hand and foot throughout the weekend by the predominantly lay staff in a joyful and uplifting environment.
The true journey begins following the weekend when you put into practice the methods and lessons learned during the retreat. To help with this, you will be connected with a reunion group consisting of folks who have attended the weekend. Meeting weekly for about an hour, the participants pray, study and support each other as they carry out their mission as Christians.
Cursillo is NOT a body of the spiritual elite. It is not some magical inoculation for sin. Cursillo is a servant community within the Church, bringing together people who are conscious of our calling as Christians to share our faith in our respective environments, whether this is at home, at work, or in social settings. Cursillo, especially the weekend, is NOT a form of group therapy. Cursillo was not designed to help those who have undergone or are undergoing personal crises. Finally, Cursillo is NOT a secret society or cult. The entire experience is an open book and all you have to do is ask someone who has attended the weekend to know what happens.
My wife, Rebecca, and I made our Cursillo sixteen years ago. We intentionally put off going for several years because we did not know what happened during the weekend. Once it was explained to us, we agreed to go and it was nothing less than a wonderful experience. It is a fair statement that the experience opened my eyes to the reality that God had plans for my life and that I should be prayerfully open to what these plans might be. Little did I know then that those plans included seminary three and a half years later.
This is not to suggest that you will be moved to become a priest after a Cursillo experience. In fact, you do not have to go to Cursillo to be a faithful Christian. It does, however, help you to be more intentional about your walk with the Lord and teach you ways to deepen your relationship with God.
The Rev. Thack Dyson, St. Paul's, Daphne, AL