I lived my Cursillo Weekend in March of 2019. I experienced God’s love in such a prolific way that I felt called to reciprocate by being part of the Summer Women’s Weekend Team. Little did I know when I submitted my application that this call was not only a call to serve, but an invitation to deepen my faith by working with an amazing and supportive Cursillo Community which deeply propelled my faith journey.
I was invited to be part of the kitchen team which was perfect for me; not because I am a great cook, but because there is such a variety of responsibilities that would allow me to serve well in this position. Preparing for a Cursillo weekend begins with formation. As I attended my first meeting feeling a little anxious and like a newbie; “What did appear before my wondering eyes?” No! Not 8 tiny reindeers! But two of my Cursillista sisters from my/our weekend. One being a tablemate that I bonded with and genuinely admired for her faith at such a young age and the other who spoke God’s truth eloquently and had much spiritual wisdom. Oh and we were all on the Kitchen Team. As a good friend of mine says; “This was not a coincidence.” During formation I was able to connect and get to know many fellow Cursillistas. Our Kitchen Team Coordinators were strong leaders who shared the importance of our role in the weekend and also conveyed that we too would have time to pray, grow spiritually, and bond. Their fun spirit shined through and they noted that while we had hard work to do, we would have a great time as well. (We received beautiful aprons printed with; “Cooking for Christ!” )
The weekend arrived and it was remarkable! Our coordinators arranged times throughout our weekend to join the Palanca team in praying the rosary, joyful song, and scripture. We ended each evening with them. What a joyous way to enter sleep each night! The women on these teams are incredible faith filled women and it was a privilege to serve with them.
Additionally, our coordinators led us in blessing the two kitchens we utilized and presented us with turns to lead daily reflection and prayer before each of our meals together. A precious moment of the weekend was during a tired stretch; we took a break to pray “The Divine Mercy Chaplet.” in song. It was beautiful, energizing, and a very close moment with God.
Working a Cursillo Weekend is a call to action to serve others by showing kindness, care, encouragement, and Christ’s love to those on the weekend. The candidates were wrapped in God’s love by the entire team. Jesus tells us how important it is to serve others. What is miraculous is that in serving others with a happy and loving heart we realize that we are the ones blessed beyond belief! We feel a rewarding sense of fulfillment that comes from serving Him through serving others. We encounter Jesus’ love as we share our lives with those we set out to serve. I find this both thought-provoking and marvelous.
If you are looking for a way to encounter God’s love, I encourage you to work a weekend or volunteer in another capacity. Serving others is a way to make it real in your life and in the lives of others. Will you let me be your servant. Let me be as Christ to you... Listen to this song and reflect on what God is calling you to do…..
Thank you God for all that you have given me through my Cursillo journey.
I have found that as more years of my riding the train goes by, the softer my heart has become to the plight of so many people. I would like to share another encounter of God on the Lightrail.
This one began on a 40 degree morning on the platform at Target Field where I saw a mid-aged man with only one shoe on, and no socks, attempting to shuffle along on the cement. He had grass and leaves stuck to his clothing and it was obvious that he had slept on the ground and by his weathered face, this was not his first night outdoors. I boarded the first car (as is my habit) and wouldn't you know, there was the man with one shoe sitting four seats in front of me. I am on the train for 20 minutes and God started pestering me within the first couple of minutes, 'Therese, the man only has one shoe and it's mighty chilly on the sidewalk.' I really did try to ignore it, but eventually gave in and started sizing up his feet. I wear a size 11 shoe and my current shoes were nicely stretched out and quite pliable. If I took my insert out they just may fit.
So yes, I got up and went and sat next to the man saying 'you only have one shoe on.' Like a child he responded, 'I lost my other one last night.' At that moment it was only him and I and Christ. The rest of the passengers faded away. I told him that maybe my shoe would fit him and proceeded to remove the insert and place the shoe on his foot. It fit! No surprise there since God was orchestrating the whole affair. He told me it felt good and then I asked him if he would like a matching pair. His eyes lit up and said 'oh that would be nice.' So off came the other shoe along with the insert.
You may be asking how I was going to get to work in socks - well that also became my thought. I have a quirky thing about wearing wild socks (don't ask) and my current pair was neon pink. I keep a pair of shoes in my office so knew that if I moved fast enough I could get to the building before my feet got too cold; although i was starting to feel a bit sheepish once the reality of what I had just done began to sink in.
When I stepped off the train, a gentleman said to me 'that was a really nice thing you just did.' It was then that I remembered that there were indeed other passengers on board. I'm hoping that some of them also saw Christ in this man's face and saw the precious child of God that he is, and not 'just another drunk.' I sure did.
I was cleaning out a closet recently in a room that serves as my office. This particular closet is home to a veritable “hodge podge” of items. There are bins with precious memorabilia of days gone by, some dress clothes and some clothes that I just can’t part with like my and my children’s 1st communion outfits. It is also home to things that just need a temporary home for one reason or another. One such thing was a large wicker basket full of breakables; breakables that I had forgotten were in there.
On this particular day, I went into this closet wanting to purge the unnecessary. In the process, I carelessly shifted things around disturbing the wicker basket which was precariously perched on top of an American Girl Doll locker from my daughter’s childhood. Without notice, the basket and all of its contents tumbled to the floor. With a gasp and a selfchastisement for my carelessness, I watched and heard the contents crack and shatter.
I bent down to see what I had done and in that array of brokenness there was, in its mighty tenderness, a ceramic figure of Jesus’ hand holding a child of God in gentleness, peace, comfort and wholeness. To my great delight, it was not broken! In fact, it was untouched and perfect. This was not something that could be left unnoticed and unshared; it captured my full attention and made me pause to remember that no matter what is happening around me, around you, around us, God is holding each one of us in the palm of his loving and mighty hand-- always and everywhere.
What a beautiful comfort!
I was inspired to attend the Cursillo weekend July 25th – 28th because that Saturday, July 27 marked the 11th anniversary of my mother’s passing and I knew my mother had made a Cursillo. I also knew that I had kept her Cursillo folder, but I had never really looked at it. So after I got home, I was inspired to find it. And in the folder I found her picture and her notes which I found were very similar to mine. She made her Cursillo in 1994 at St. Anne’s in Duluth, I believe. And most precious of all, I found a palanca card from my father to my mother. So, he must have made his Cursillo weekend first. I felt blessed to have, for some reason, kept this folder and then blessed to be inspired to look for it. I only wish I could talk to my parents about their experience, but I guess that must wait for the 5th day!
When I first lived my own Cursillo weekend 18 years ago in November of 2001, I never imagined that I would be asked to be the Rector for a Cursillo Weekend. Yet there I was in July, at Saint Joseph's in Rosemount, as the Rector for Weekend 373. As you can expect, it was an amazing experience for me! I had a hard time keeping my emotions intact, and every night I prayed for the strength to keep my composure. It worked right up to my final talk on Sunday afternoon, but by that time, I was ready to let the Spirit (and tears) flow out of me! The weekend didn't come without challenges, as we were close to cancelling the Men's Weekend due to a lack of candidates. However, once again (as always) the Holy Spirit prevailed, and we had 6 wonderful Candidates attend the weekend. The age range of the 6 Candidates was from 24 to 73, proving that Cursillo is for the young and the old. This vast difference in age made for many humorous stories and anecdotes throughout the entire weekend.
I believe the success of the weekend is a direct result of the dedication and Christ like love of the entire Men's Team. The Rollo Team was full of "All-Stars", with most of them being prior Rectors. The Spiritual Directors were so down-to-earth with their talks and we all learned some great lessons, even though we have heard these talks many times before. The Kitchen and Palanca Teams had several members who had just lived the previous Cursillo Weekend in February. Throughout the weekend, thanks in part to the small number of Candidates, all of the Team Members and Candidates had a chance to really get to know each other both on a personal and Spiritual level. We all started out as strangers, but we definitely finished the weekend as true friends and Brothers in Christ. I will never forget this experience as the Rector for Weekend 373, as it gave me another 18-year tune-up for my Cursillo life.
Last year I was preparing to be the Rectora for weekend 370, and when it was cancelled, I acted like I accepted it gracefully, but I really didn't. I went through some of the stages of grief and then some other stages that I didn't even know where they came from. The only people I shared some of those feelings with were Tom, my husband, my groupies and my Moms-In-touch prayer partners. But some of the feelings I have never shared with anyone because they come from the evil one and I have to fight that battle daily, so I pray the St. Michael prayer to kick the demons to the curb. But the lessons I learned this year are lessons that I keep learning over and over again and hopefully this time they will stick. I have 3 points to make and they are:
God has a plan. Always. God has a plan!!
When I said yes to being the Rectora for weekend 370, I had people at the Clausura of Women's # 368 right away tell me that they were putting their app in to work the team. There are about 30 positions to fill, so I started calling Cursillistas to fill them. I just expected everyone to say yes, which didn't happen because of family issues or commitments already made before I called. Since many, many of us are grandparents now, they wanted to spend quality time with their grandkids during summer, myself included. Still I worked hard at filling the team and God provided. But I just said a key phrase, "I worked hard" not letting God do it. I relied on my own power, strength and will.
I am not in control. I never have been, & I never will be.
Every day I say the 3rd step prayer of AA as my Morning Offering. “God, I offer myself to you to build with me and to do with me as you will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, so that I may better do your will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those that I would serve, of your power, your strength, and your way of life. May I do your will always. Amen."
So, if I said that every day, did I mean it? I thought I did. But the enemy is so subtle and he can rob us of our joy so easily if we let our guard down. And that is what happened. I thought I was in control of filling the Candidates apps too. I was trying to recruit sponsors and candidates my way, not God's way. I never asked him how to go about it. So, when the candidate numbers were too low to actually have the weekend, it was cancelled. It was in the following months of processing this turn of events, that I came to realize a very important lesson that God had been teaching me my whole life. Which brings me to my 3rd point:
It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me.
So finally accepting that truth and living it every day, giving up control, praying faithfully, listening and meaning the words I pray in my mind, in my heart and in my mouth, when Diane Repucci called and re-asked me to be the Rectora for weekend #374, I could ask God if He wanted me to do this and I felt his answer was Yes....
I am the type of person who has a disability of losing things, misplacing things, things happen to me repeatedly that don't usually happen to other people.
I don't know if Satan thinks I am an easy target and wants to thwart my Faith in God. I do not let him get away with it, and I fight with all I've got, and believe me when I tell you, we had a real battle on our hands for this Women's weekend. I shared some of the things that were happening, but the magnitude of all of it is overwhelming that it would take too much time to repeat it and I don't want to give the evil one any more of my time.
Good News! God was victorious and HE WON AGAIN. The weekend was totally awesome, the Rollo's were magnificent, and the New Cursillista's were really into learning all that God had prepared for them this weekend. So, I will say it again:
God has a plan - Always - God has a plan
Josie Olson and her husband, Bill Sr. were long time members of Cursillo. She helped start the Highland Park Ultreya many years ago, was a rectora, member of many teams and welcomed many Cursillistas to our community. The “theme song” for the weekend she coordinated was I Say Yes My Lord—which is how she lived her entire life. Her obituary says: Josie had a passion for Christ and was devoted to the Cursillo Ministry for many years. She led by example in her commitment to her marriage, raising seven children and always being there for whoever needed her. Her joy was infectious and she had a sharp sense of humor that always left you smiling. She was a gift to everyone around her.
Have you ever felt invisible? — Nope!
Have you ever made someone feel invisible? — No! of course not!
Summer is here! And with that comes the return of green grass, flowers, birds and our many homeless! The same corners are filled with those who seem to have nothing. I don’t know about you, but I pass the same corner to and from work, with the same homeless people working the same spot day after day. Once in a while I pull up and give, but more often, I tend to stay back a bit or fiddle with something in the car so I don’t have to lock eyes. Sometimes I pray the light stays green until I get through the intersection. Think about that! I intentionally ignore one of God’s very own!! So, the answer to question number two, for me, is yes. Not my finest moment.
We were blessed to be able to attend my nephew’s wedding in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado this past fall. The evening before the rehearsal dinner was warm. The streets were filled with locals, tourists, college students and quite a few homeless. The seven of us walked the cobblestone streets looking for a restaurant while trying to avoid the pockets of people asking for money. A particular women, clearly drunk, came toward us asking for money to buy cigarettes. My group continued on, giving her wide berth. I was in the back saying to myself, “just keep walking, just keep walking” much like Dori in Finding Nemo! I could smell the alcohol as she approached me. Suddenly I just stopped, looked at her and said I am sorry but I do not have any cash but, I can pray for you. She stopped wobbling, began to cry, and said “Thank You”. I said, “but I have no money!” She said Thank you for acknowledging me, for Seeing me! Most people walk by as if I am not here. I surprised myself at that point, and reached out to hug her. She cried harder. I asked her name, it was Shelly. I said, “I will pray for you.” (I meant I would add her to my list for bedtime prayers). But noooooooo! She took off her hat, made the sign of the cross, extended both her hands and waited for me to take them. She wanted me to pray with her right then and there in the middle of the streets of Fort Collins. I was speechless!! Right now, Right here? There were people every-where. My heart was racing! I looked up to God and heard him say, “Pull up your big girl pants. I’ve got you!” So, I took her hands and prayed, out loud! I really don’t even remember the prayer. I hugged her again and off she went. I don’t know if our encounter changed her life, but it sure made an impact on mine and the family members I was with.
All my family is Christian and the reactions were different! My parents hung back to ensure my safety, my brother’s first words were “check your pockets” and then it went on to people commenting that there were plenty of jobs and no sympathy for people that were homeless begging for food or money.
However, the next night after a bountiful, rehearsal dinner with lots of leftovers, another member of our group, from the night be-fore, suggested we go find Shelly and give her and anyone else a wonderful meal served by us!!
While they did not find Shelly, they did locate a Union Gospel Mission and gave them the, much appreciated, dinner.
Thank you, Shelly, for reminding us that we are all children of God and no one should be made to feel invisible!
In late January of this year, myself and Marilyn Neuville (another Cursillista), were part of a small delegation that traveled to Kerala, India with the Archdiocesan Center for Missions. We went to visit the Diocese of Vijayapuram in the city of Kottayam. Vijayapuram is one of four dioceses throughout the world that the Center for Missions helps support. Our purpose was not your typical mission trip of doing something, but one of immersion: to experience and encounter Catholic life there.
Before our trip we were given a journal filled with various scripture verses and quotes to ponder and reflect on. One quote in particular left an impression on all of us. It helped us to approach our trip with a sense of humbleness.
“Our task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy; else we may find ourselves treading on someone’s dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was there before our arrival.” Max Warren
During our time in India we truly came to feel that we had come to a holy place. In India, Catholics make up less than 2% of the population, but in Kerala almost 20% percent of the population is Catholic. Of the three Catholic rites that are practiced there, the Vijayapuram Diocese is the smallest and poorest. The people are of the lower caste. They rarely can affect political and cultural life, they face discrimination, not so much in the form of violence, but more economic discrimination, as a result, they are very poor, but their faith we discovered is very rich.
One beautiful example of this rich Faith, that we were privileged to witness, happened at the St. Anthony Pilgrim Center. On the first Tuesday of every month they have a “Day of Prayer”. On this day, over 30,000 people come for healing prayer services, confessions, counseling, and Divine Mercy devotions, along with Mass celebrated every two hours from 8 am to 8 pm. The pilgrims come with a desire to experience God. Almost half of those who come are not Christian, but they see the Church as a place of comfort, and for the Church in Vijayapuram, it’s an opportunity to serve the people and be a witness for the power of Christ’s love and compassion. It was truly a beautiful encounter of the work of the Holy Spirit.
In 1990, the diocese established Basic Christian Communities (BCC’s) in all of their 84 parishes. This model is patterned after the early Church to promote community. The early Church lived out their faith as a minority and drew strength
from their small communities. Similarly, the people in the diocese of Vijayapurum also live out their faith as a minority, and they draw strength from within these small Christian communities. Families in a parish are divided up into groups for 15-25 families. These groups gather together regularly in the homes for fellowship, prayer, singing, study, discussion, works of charity and agapa (eating together). Through BCC life people get to know, love and care for one another. Through our visits to the BCC’s I couldn’t help but see the spirit of the Cursillo movement in these gatherings. They were truly inspiring.
At each BCC meeting they take attendance. If someone is not there they ask, “Has someone seen them lately?” If not, they ask, “Who will go and check on them?” Isn’t that a beautiful witness of Christian love and concern?! Wouldn’t we all want someone to check on us, but we also need to be the ones to check on others.
At our first BCC gathering the sense of God’s Presence could be felt in the room. Peace and joy radiated on the faces of the people as they welcomed us with great hospitality and love. We had a beautiful time of sharing from the heart, as though we had known them for a long time. Then they prayed over us. It was our first encounter of the Charismatic Church of India! We were asked to share with them a song. We chose “Holy Ground” and from that moment on, that song best expressed what our hearts were beginning to experience and would continue to experience throughout our time there - that God was present and where He is, is Holy.
We had so many amazing experiences that I’d need a lot more space to share them all! If they send another delegation to India my hope is that through reading this reflection many of you would consider going. You will love it!
This morning I received a phone call from a friend. She was in distress over her elderly father. He had fallen, and was taken to the emergency room. There, he was diagnosed with pneumonia, diverticulitis, heart trouble and they hadn’t even addressed the fall.
“I will be with him until he is settled, say a prayer.” ~ I prayed.
Shortly thereafter I received a text message from a friend. “Birth day is today! Spending the day at the hospital waiting on the baby!” I prayed.
A beautiful reminder that we are not alone. Jesus waits with us in good times and in bad, steadfast and loving He is with us.
The Taize song came to my heart,
Wait for the Lord, his day is near.
Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart
Prepare the way for the Lord
Make a straight path for Him
Rejoice in the Lord always
He is at Hand
Joy and gladness for all who seek the Lord
The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed
All the Earth will see the Lord.
Welcome 4th Day!