Our niece was married this past New Year’s Eve. Between her wedding and Christmas gatherings among friends, it was a very busy time. In helping with the last minute preparations for the reception, flowers, and preparing for out of town guests, it was sometimes hard to remember that this was really about the sacrament of joining two people into one with God.
Our Cursillo weekends can also become like that. We have the team meetings, the stress of writing the Rollos, planning the meals and the various other preparations. If we’re not careful and intentional, the focus can become about getting the tasks done and checking off to-do lists.
On the Cursillo weekend, the focus should be on the candidates. Making new friends and being friends with the candidates is how this is accomplished. The Cursillo weekend may be the first time the candidates have ever felt comfortable enough to share their thoughts about how they view God, religion and what ideal they will strive for in their lives. We need to stay focused so that the busyness of the weekend does not interrupt those conversations.
It is very important to allow the candidates to do more of the talking than we do. The weekends provide an opportunity for the candidates to become comfortable speaking about their beliefs. Our role as a team member is to be an active listener, giving the candidate our undivided attention. We need to set aside any distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal, but rather, encourage the candidate to continue with small verbal comments like “Yes” and “uh-huh.”
Personal growth will occur if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us individually and collectively on the weekend. Remember that metanoia happens on God’s timetable. We need to let go of any expectations we have for how the candidates may be affected by the weekend. The candidates will need time to process all of the information they are receiving on the Cursillo weekend. Cursillo teaches a method that allows for continuous, progressive, conversion. The metanoia may occur long after the weekend has ended.
Serving as a team member is a great gift to give and to receive. The palanca we do leading up to the weekend is a powerful component of our preparation. Prayer and sacrifices offered for the team and candidates pave the way for the metanoia that may occur. You give of your time and talents. What you receive can come in many forms: new friends, both of other team members and new Cursillistas, the experience of serving in a new capacity, deepening of your relationship with Christ, and many other forms. We, too, should be drawing closer to Christ.
We mentioned to our niece and her fiancée that every so often they should slow down and look around so that they will remember the moments. We should do the same on the weekends.
Yours in Christ,
Tom & Diane Repucci
Our Cursillo experience started when our friends, Jim and Mary Carr asked us to make the three day weekend. This is how it usually begins, with the three day weekend and continues with joining our friend’s weekly group and monthly Ultreya. Cursillo is not just the weekend and it is not just the grouping, however, making a three day Cursillo weekend is a great way for people to discern if the method of grouping and Ultreya are a method which could help them to grow in their faith.
Through Cursillo, we learned that we, as Christians, are on a path of continuous progressive conversion. This means that we should always be on a path that leads us closer to Christ. If we have lived a Cursillo weekend, it doesn’t mean that “we have arrived”, rather, our eyes have been opened to how we can be better Christians. For us, it awakened our awareness to our baptismal call of bringing others to Christ. That is where the making a friend, being a friend and bringing that friend to Christ comes into our consciousness. To do so requires deliberate effort. For some, this is very natural. For others, more effort is needed to work this process. The Holy Spirit is always available to guide us in the process. All we need to do is to ask for the assistance.
Our weekly groups can help us by giving us a place to share our action plans and the action we have taken to carry out our plans. Our groups can provide ideas, encouragement and support. Consider inviting your friend to join your weekly group. It isn’t necessary for that friend to have lived a Cursillo weekend before joining your group. If they join your small group, they will have the opportunity to meet your Christian friends and experience how the small group can be beneficial to one’s Christian journey.
There is an expression, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to look like a nail.” In our spreading the word about Cursillo, we need to be aware that the people in our environments are each on their own spiritual journey. This is another reason we need to make a friend and be a friend. We need to learn more about that person and understand if Cursillo is really the right method for them to grow where God has placed them.
Cursillo provides us with a framework for being a better Christian. It calls us to a proper balance of our piety, study and action. There are many other opportunities for growth. The Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Life in the Spirit seminars and being involved in our parish communities are other ways in which a person’s faith life may experience new growth.
Remember to pray for your friends, even if they don’t say yes to the Cursillo.
Each advent season we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior on Christmas Day. We have four short weeks to “prepare the way for the Lord” Mark 1:3. Such preparations might include prayers using an advent wreath, setting up a Christmas tree or setting up a Nativity Scene.
Just as Jesus came into the world as the “Light of the World”, we each have a responsibility to bring light into our environments. More than ever, our world needs this light. Extending assistance to someone in need, visiting the sick and homebound, being attentive and really listening to someone who is hurting, are all ways in which we can bring light into the world this Advent. We each have a unique set of gifts and talents that can be used to be light in this world.
One way that we can bring light into this world is by sponsoring a candidate or working a Cursillo weekend. Would someone in your environment be a possible candidate for Cursillo? Start by praying for discernment. Working on team is a growth opportunity for the team members and provides an opportunity for candidates to experience Christ’s love.
Perhaps a meditation for this advent would be to think about who has brought light into your world. Maybe it’s your spouse, or a good friend who has helped you through a really difficult time. Consider telling that person how you appreciate the light they have brought to you. A note of appreciation might brighten their day. If the person that you are remembering is no longer alive, remember them in prayer.
An idea for meditation that can result in action is “Do I treat everyone I meet as I imagine I would greet the Christ Child?” The sense of awe and wonderment that we have of Jesus’ birth should be the same feeling we have towards everyone we encounter, as each person is a child of God. This idea can be summed up in the lyrics from a popular Christian song: “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see you.”
We might try to meditate on why God didn’t come to earth fully grown. This might lead to understanding that growing, learning, and living the Cursillo Method is part of what God wants us to experience. Working a weekend is a way to further our knowledge. Grouping with someone new who recently made a weekend might bring new life to your group.
As we carefully unwrap our decorations and set up the tree and nativity scene, we should contemplate how we will treat each person we come into contact with this Advent and Christmas season. They are infinitely more valuable in God’s eyes than the decorations.
Wishing you and your family a blessed Advent!
We decided to make an adventure of our trip to the Cursillo Region 6 Fall meeting by inviting some dear friends of ours, Joe and Therese Frederick, to join us. The four of us set out on a fall morning and stopped at St. John’s University to view the Saint John’s Bible. The display of this illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size is something to see. Reading the displays, we learned the history of The Saint John’s Bible and read about the calligraphers and illustrators who created this Bible. To say that the calligraphy and illustrations are beautiful, greatly understates this work of art.
After lunch, we had a private tour of The Saint John’s Pottery, a pottery studio located on the campus of St. John’s University. During the tour, we learned that the kiln is fired up once every two years. That means pottery sits on a shelf for several months until the kiln is fired up. Imagine yourself as the potter, creating something by hand and having to wait for a long period of time to see the end result.
The 87 foot long firebrick kiln at The Saint John’s Pottery consists of three chambers. The location of the pottery in the various chambers produces different finishes and colors on the pottery. How the pottery pieces are arranged on the shelves within the kiln also affects the outcome. It takes 7 weeks to load the kiln with the hundreds of pieces of pottery to be fired. Great care is taken in arranging the pottery within the kiln. The pottery undergoes firing for 10 days. During the 14 day cooling period, the doors of the kiln remain closed: NO PEEKING! If cool air enters the kiln by way of a door being opened prematurely, pottery within the kiln may crack. Finally it takes about one week to unload the kiln.
Reflecting on this process, we were struck by the life lessons in the cycle of creating pottery. Patience is needed to see the final outcome of the pottery created. Trust is another lesson, as many people are involved in the loading, firing and unloading of the kiln. Letting go of control is also needed, as you don’t know what the color of your pottery will be after it has been fired. Dependence upon others is another lesson as many people are required for the various steps.
These life lessons apply to our evangelization efforts as we reach out to make a friend, be a friend and bring a friend to Christ. Building a friendship develops over time (patience.) We may not know the outcome of our evangelization efforts (trust.) The outcome of the invitation to your friend to have a relationship with Christ is out of your control (letting go.) Others brought your friend to the point where they would be receptive to your invitation, and perhaps others will finish the conversion (dependence on others.) Holy Spirit, help us to persevere in our efforts to build the Kingdom of God.
Tom & Diane Repucci
Hugo Valverde gave the keynote address at the National Encounter in August on “Unity in Diversity.” He described unity as being combined into one and diversity as the inclusion of individuals. Hugo went on to say that we are the mystical body of Christ. He referenced 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where Paul describes this body as “one, though it has many parts.” We need to understand that we each have a unique set of gifts, talents and interests. Living in community, we need to respect one another. God places us where he wants us. Each of us is important for sustaining the Cursillo movement and for the work of the Lord.
Uniformity is not the same as unity in diversity. We need to have openness of heart without condemnation of others. The beauty of the Church is in unity: individuals united as one body. Further, Hugo explained that tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
After hearing this keynote address, we reflected on how we see unity in diversity alive in our Archdiocesan Cursillo movement. We thought about the recent Vietnamese women’s weekend. Their leaders were comfortable in asking for the assistance they needed from our community. Many in our community supported the Vietnamese by doing palanca and attending the Clausura.
The February 2018 Cursillo weekends at St. Joachim and Anne in Shakopee were supported by a liaison team from the Spanish community. They, along with other members of their community, did a great job supporting the English community for those two weekends.
We also see unity in diversity alive in the various leadership positions within our Archdiocesan Cursillo movement. Each member of Secretariat is an individual who uses their talents and abilities for the support and building up of our movement. Likewise, our Ultreya reps, Parish Ambassadors and countless others support our movement in various roles, using the gifts and talents that God has given them.
How can we do a better job in living out the challenge of unity in diversity? It begins in our environments. How do we welcome new neighbors? Do we make an effort to stop by their house and introduce ourselves? How about a new coworker? Do we try to get to know them by inviting them to lunch or coffee? Think of the various meetings that you attend, whether it’s in the workplace, church, or organizations in which you volunteer. Make an effort to really listen to others’ points of view, their ideas. Get to know one new person at each meeting.
In all the environments in which we live, (e.g. our family, neighborhood, work place) we should strive to resolve our differences, respecting each individual. There is strength in unity. We need to be light in the world, sharing the Good News, making Jesus Christ known and loved. How do we do this? By reaching out to others, bridging our differences, and making friends one at a time.
Imagine being on a journey that no one else has traveled before. Some parts of the path appear to have had travelers, but not the entire path. A friend asks you about your journey: where you’ve been, how you arrived where you are today. You take time to think back on the journey so that you can answer your friend’s questions. Perhaps there were some things along the way that caused you to reconsider the path that you were taking. You describe the incidents that were most memorable, that had the greatest impact on you, because they are important parts of your journey.
This is like our spiritual journey. We each have a unique path to travel to arrive at the same destination (heaven.) Yes, parts of our journey may have similarities to others’ journeys, but the entire spiritual journey is as unique as we are. There are people that we’ve encountered along the way that have accompanied us; maybe they’ve helped to show us the way. Take a moment to reflect back on who those people were. Some may have been in your life for years. Or maybe it was an author or speaker who was in your life for a very short time.
Cursillo may be one of those paths that have been traveled by others, but each person’s experience of encountering Christ on their Cursillo weekend is unique. Think back to your Cursillo weekend as a candidate. Which Rollo do you remember? Perhaps it is a Rollo given by a speaker who shared their experience simply and honestly. What was in that talk that resonated with you, something that caused you to consider making changes in your life?
The above recollections are your witness to others who cross your path. To give a true witness, we have to be honest about our journey. We may not need to share all of the details, yet sharing some of our struggles can be helpful to others, especially to those who may be encountering their own struggles. Sharing our pain and challenges in our faith, lends authenticity to our witness. We need to be aware that others’ paths will not be in the same order or time frame as our journey. What had a great effect on us, may not hold any significance for others.
Will you consider reaching out to a friend to share your faith journey? Maybe there is someone who sits near you in church that you frequently see who is a friend that you haven’t met yet. Introduce yourself. Invite them to coffee. Befriend them. Over time, you may have the opportunity to share your story. Making a friend takes time. Don’t short change or try to hasten the process. Be a friend to them. Eventually, you may have the chance to bring them to Christ.
It’s not too early to begin thinking about candidates to sponsor for the winter weekends which will be held at St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove. Christ is counting on you.
Beep! Beep! The screen on the dashboard indicates “Lane Departure.” Oops! That got my attention. Better be more focused on my driving, more attentive. You have to love the technology that tells us what we’re doing wrong. There is a button which will disengage this warning system, for those times when we don’t want that reminder.
Our small groups can be like the lane departure warning system. If we engage in our small groups and share what we’re doing (or not doing) in piety, study and action, our group members can alert us that we need to get back on track. Oftentimes, just by sharing in our small group, it becomes apparent, without anyone telling us, that we need to change what we’re doing. If we opt out of this warning system by not regularly attending group or by not honestly sharing, we’re not going to receive the prompting that can help us to be more focused, more intentional in our piety, study and action.
Our Catholic faith has a built in warning system, too. Through a good examination of our conscience, we can identify where we have gone astray, where we need to be more attentive and intentional in our actions. This may lead one to the sacrament of confession. Like the aftermath of an accident, if we stray too far out of our lanes, we may need others to help put the pieces back together. Through the sacrament, we receive grace, which strengthens us for the journey. If we disengage by avoiding regularly going to confession, the system will not work. It’s our decision. It’s up to us.
Making or working a Cursillo weekend is another place to gain insight into what direction we are heading. We hear about the ideal and we’re invited to consider “What is our ideal?” We hear personal witnesses in the various rollos and start to think about ways in which we may want to change. We engage in conversations with other candidates and team members and hear their personal stories. All of these interactions give us pause to consider what path we are actually on. Do we want to continue in the direction we are going, or do we need to adjust our course?
Sponsoring, if done fully, can also help us rediscover the value in the support offered by Cursillo. A good way to learn is to try to teach another. By sharing or teaching a prospective candidate what Cursillo is, we learn the same thing but at a deeper level. Cursillo and the Catholic Church are trying to help all of us become the person God wants us to be. Are you listening for and being attentive to the “Beep! Beep!” in your life?
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4
The first Vietnamese women’s weekend in the Twin Cities was held last month. Twenty five women were welcomed into the Cursillo community at the Clausura. In the past, the Vietnamese community would send their candidates to California, Texas or another state to attend a weekend. For the May 31 – June 3 weekend the team flew here. Twenty nine women flew in from California and Boston to serve on the team. Fr. Dau Vu traveled from Missouri to serve as the spiritual director. In addition, twelve women and three clergy from the Twin Cities served on the team.
The commitment of the Vietnamese community is due to the metanoia which all of us have experienced on our weekends and again on the weekends we have worked. It takes the work of many people, along with hours of planning and preparation, to offer a Cursillo weekend, so that others may encounter the great love that Jesus has for each of us.
Ten of us from the English Cursillo community attended the Clausura. We felt privileged to be in attendance. We arrived during the witnessing, most of which was spoken in Vietnamese. Although we didn’t understand the words spoken in Vietnamese, it was evident that the Holy Spirit had touched the candidates and had an impact on the women.
In one of the witnesses, spoken in English, we heard “Now that I know, I can’t go back.” This young lady was referring to her life before her encounter with Jesus. She couldn’t go back to living her life as though she didn’t know what she had learned on her weekend. Perhaps that is how many of us felt after living our Cursillo weekend. When we encountered Christ on the Cursillo weekend, we became more aware of how much He loves us. We were reminded of our Baptismal call to share Christ’s love with others.
For the two of us, this awaking or metanoia, meant that we were called to spend more time in prayer, learn more about our Catholic faith, and share our faith with others with the intention of leading others closer to Christ. We couldn’t return to our life, living as we did before that encounter.
After the witnessing, we all went over to the Church for prayers, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and singing. It was mostly in Vietnamese, although, some parts were translated for our benefit. During the ceremony they honored the Cursillistas who had lived their weekends in Vietnam and continued sponsoring after they arrived here, in their new community.
Certainly the sharing of faith and leading others to Christ is taking place in the Vietnamese community. The commitment of time, energy, and love for others was crucial to bringing the Women’s Vietnamese weekend to fruition. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Vietnamese community.
We recently attended the Region VI Spring Encounter in Nebraska.The theme this year was sponsoring, where we were reminded of some of the basics. All Cursillistas are welcome to attend the Regional Encounters which are held twice a year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
The Cursillo method is centered on friendship. Before sponsoring a candidate, you should know the person very well. If the person is someone you haven’t known for very long, get to know them by spending more time with them. Establish a relationship with them. Be sincere and authentic. By spending time with your friend, you will have the opportunity to share your personal witness.
Show your friend, by how you live, how to be a Christian. Tell them about group reunion and Ultreya. Invite your friend to join your group and to attend Ultreya, before they live a Cursillo weekend. Yes, people who haven’t lived a Cursillo weekend are welcome to join a Cursillo group and attend Ultreya. The purpose of Cursillo is to communicate the good news of God’s love to others, primarily to those who are far away. Potential candidates don’t need to wait until after their Cursillo weekend to experience small groups and Ultreya.
Provide your candidate with information about the Cursillo weekend such as the multiple talks over three days, table discussions, chapel visits and the opportunity to receive the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist. A Cursillo rochure used in the Wichita diocese has a very short description of each of the talks. Do you remember them all? Ideal, Habitual Grace, Layperson in the Church, Actual Grace, Piety, Study, Sacraments, Action, Obstacles to a Life of Grace, Leaders, Study of the Environment, Life in Grace, Christianity in Action and Total Security. The list of the talks is on the tc-cursillo.org website: Weekends -> Weekend Activity Schedule. Share all of this with your friend.
One presenter at the Regional Encounter recommended knowing the candidate for at least a year before sponsoring them. We knew our sponsors for several years prior to our Cursillo weekend. We sponsored someone that we knew for only a short amount of time and, due to health issues we did not know about, the candidate was unable to complete the weekend. There is wisdom in the recommendation of knowing someone prior to sponsoring them.
The last talk presented a three step process. First make a friend, then take them on the weekend, and finally maintain your friendship, grouping with them and attending Ultreya with them. Each of these steps is important. Together, they provide Total Security.
All are invited to attend both the fall Region VI Encounter in Hankinson, ND, September 28 –30, and the National Encounter in Seattle, WA August 16 - 19. For more information contact us.
Tom & Diane Repucci
During the Easter liturgical season, the first reading most days is from the Acts of the Apostles. It is so inspiring how the apostles worked to spread the gospel. In Acts 4:32 “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” Not only did they share a common mission, they believed that all of their possessions belonged to the community, so that there was “no needy person among them.” Acts 4:34
When we lived our Cursillo weekend, we learned that we each have a mission: To share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to make Him known and loved in our world. “Our world” includes our family, our neighborhood, our work environment, wherever we spend our time. We also learned that we are members of the larger Christian community. We are not meant to live in isolation, rather, we need to be connected with, inspired by, upheld by and active members of that larger Christian community. Our small groups, Ultreyas and parishes are three examples of places where we have regular contact with other members of our larger Christian community.
Working a Cursillo weekend is an opportunity for us to work together as one body to share the Gospel message that God loves us and desires us to live in communion with Him. As a team member, we share our talents and abilities to live that message on the Cursillo weekend and after the weekend. The gifts and talents that God has given us are given for the benefit of our community.
Frequently, team members are assigned a role that they haven’t held before, such as being a rollista or serving as kitchen coordinator or palanca coordinator. It’s not uncommon for a team member to question whether they are capable of the assigned role, but with prayer, palanca and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct, team members discover that they are given the gifts they need to fulfill their role.
Has it been a while since you have worked a weekend? Will you consider working the August weekend so that your gifts can be used to lead others to Christ? If you are unable to work a weekend, perhaps you would consider doing palanca for the candidates and team who will be working the August weekends.
Please keep the Vietnamese Cursillo community in your prayers and consider doing palanca and writing a palanca note for their upcoming women’s weekend May 31 to June 3 which will be held at St. Anne St. Joseph Hien in Minneapolis.
Pray also for the Spanish community. They are registering candidates and looking forward to holding weekends within the next year.
“God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
Welcome 4th Day!