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History of Presbyterian Cursillo

The Cursillo movement was born in Spain.  The first weekend was held in 1944, and the first weekend officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church was held in 1949.  It was started as an effort to help prepare leaders for a spiritual pilgrimage, as well as to help cure the bitterness of the Spanish Civil War.  The founder, Eduardo Bonin is still alive and active today. 

Cursillo spread to Latin America, where the first Cursillo for women was held in Colombia.  Cursillo was brought to this country by Spanish Air Force personnel training in Texas.  The first weekend in the US was held in Waco, Texas in 1957.  Spanish speaking Cursillo weekends spread throughout the Southwest and into New York and Ohio.  In 1961 the first English-speaking Cursillo weekend was held in San Antonio, Texas.

 Since coming to the U.S., Cursillo has found expression in several denominations and in nonde- nominational groups as well.  Episcopal Cursillo and Walk to Emmaus groups helped Presbyterian Cursillo begin in Charleston, SC and in the Presbytery of the Peaks in Virginia.

 As of 1985, the Catholic Church estimated that 600,000 people in the US and more than 3 Million worldwide had participated in a Cursillo weekend.  That was 15 years ago. One estimate is that perhaps 1.5 million have now gone through a Cursillo weekend in the US and 8 to 10 Million worldwide. 

Local Cursillo groups are often referred to merely as the Fourth Day.  A group like Georgia Presbyterian Cursillo is often referred to as a Fourth Day movement.  GPC belongs to the National Council of Presbyterian Fourth Day Movements.  As of April 2005 it consists of 17 certified (having completed three or more weekends successfully) communities, (at least) one more that has held their first weekend in the last year and quite a few more that are in planning stages for their first weekends. 

The Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery initially held the license from Catholic Cursillo for Presbyterian Cursillo.  Presbyterian Cursillo is growing so fast that the Presbytery came to realize they could no longer administer a program that operates in so many other Presbyteries. With the agreement of Catholic Cursillo, therefore, the license passed in June 2000 to the National Council of Presbyterian Cursillo – a group within the National Council of Presbyterian Fourth Day Movements. 

 One of the requirements of the license is that we accept only members of our own denomination to attend and staff our Cursillo weekends.  Four of the groups in the National Council, who call themselves Presbyterian Pilgrimage, have declined to be governed by the terms of the license.  They conduct ecumenical weekends, using the Cursillo method – but not calling it Cursillo.

 Nationally, a loose affiliation of organizations that use the Cursillo method meets annually for an exchange of ideas.  It is called the Forum of Representatives of National Fourth Day Movements.  It consists of seven groups:  

Catholic Cursillo – The Roman Catholic ministry               Via de Cristo – Lutheran

Kairos Ministry – Non-denominational Prison Ministry*       Tres Dias – Non-denominational

National Episcopal Cursillo – Episcopal                              Presbyterian Cursillo – PC(USA)

The Walk to Emmaus – United Methodist

The history of Cursillo is still being written – you’re writing it now.  DeColores!

*Kairos relies on graduates of other Cursillo programs for its staff.  They’d love for you to volunteer.