The Beginnings of Cursillo:
Cursillo is a fairly recent movement in the Christian Church. Its beginning was in Majorca Spain in the early 1940's. It did not develop by accident. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the young people of their city to know Christ better. It developed as they prayed and worked together and as they talked together, sharing their thoughts about the state of the world and the effectiveness of their efforts to bring the light of Christ to it. The leaders of this group were Bishop Hervas, the then Bishop of Majorca, Father Juan Capo and Eduardo Bonin. When the Spanish civil war ended in 1939 it was a time of ferment in the Spanish Church. Before the war a great pilgrimage to the Shrine of Saint James at Compostela had been planned. The shrine had been a focal point for the Christian faith during the Middle Ages. After several postponements due to World War Two, the pilgrimage was rescheduled for 1948.
Eduardo Bonnin Aguilo
a "Christian Apprentice"
Preparation for the pilgrimage provided a sharp focus for the activities that led to the development of Cursillo and helped set the tone. The spirit of pilgrimage is a spirit of restlessness, of dissatisfaction with spiritual lukewarmness, of moving onward. It is also a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood among fellow pilgrims who are striving together to reach the goal of a life fully given to the love of God and humankind. This pilgrim style has come to mark much of the spirituality of the Cursillo Movement.
Those who first developed the Cursillo Movement worked together as a team from the very beginning. They worked as a leaders' team that prayed together, shared their Christian lives together, studied together, planned together, acted together and evaluated what they had done together. Together they worked at the task of forming Christian life among the young people of Majorca. Out of their common efforts, something new in the life of the Church was born.
Pilgrimage to Compostela
The first Cursillo or short course was conducted in the late 1940's. By the mid 1950's the main outline of the Cursillo method had been developed and refined in Majorca.
The first Cursillos were for young men and were known as Cursillos of Conquest. There was much hostility from those who did not attend Cursillo or church services and indeed from the Church establishment itself. His efforts in Cursillo earned Bishop Hervas 'banishment' to Ciudad Real, a move which in fact aided the spread of Cursillo through the dispersion of the original leaders.
Santiago de Compostela
After the movement spread through the mainland of Spain, it moved to the Spanish speaking South America and finally to North America in 1957, first in Spanish, then in English. By the mid 1970's the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Anglican Church in Canada had embraced the movement and given it an Anglican flavour whilst retaining all that is fundamental and basic to the original concept. From Canada the movement was introduced into Australia.
Cursillo is now a world-wide movement with centres in nearly all South and Central American countries, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several African countries.
History of Cursillo in Australia:
The first Anglican Cursillo Weekends in Australia were held in September and October 1979 in Goulburn NSW at Bishopthorpe Conference Centre. The then Bishop of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop Cecil Warren, had previously made his Cursillo in Canada and on his encouragement, his diocese invited a Canadian couple from the Diocese of Toronto, Mrs Pat Brillinger and her husband, the Rev'd Canon Paul, to launch Cursillo in the diocese. Pat was Lay Director of the first four Cursillo Weekends, ably assisted by Canon Paul, Fr Paul Hart and lay people from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wagga and some Anglicans from the same area who had attended Catholic Cursillos. Pat Brillinger completed her Fourth Day on Christmas Eve 2005 at St Catharine's Ontario Canada.
The next diocese to embrace Cursillo was Grafton, after Bishop Donald Shearman made his Cursillo in 1982 at Goulburn. The Canberra and Goulburn Cursillistas responded to his invitation to come to Grafton and after months of preparation their teams, together with one or two lay folk from the Grafton Diocese, conducted the first four Cursillos there. When one realizes that such a move involves the provision of four teams (two men's and two women's) of at least fifteen people each, plus a considerable expenditure of money and time, what is seen for possibly the first time and in an ongoing manner is large scale cooperation between dioceses.
October 2009: the celebration of thirty years of the Anglican Cursillo Movement in Australia
By 1993 more than half the dioceses in Australia had embraced the movement and the Diocese of Brisbane introduced it to the New Zealand Diocese of Wellington in 1988.
Over the years we have learned that what we in Australia originally accepted as the Cursillo Movement was not complete. We held two-day Cursillos without a full pre- or post-Cursillo. We did not understand how essential it was to form Leaders' School/Servant Communities as the foundations of a healthy Movement. We did not understand how important it was to have a pastoral plan - to be part of the wider parish and diocesan pastoral plans.
In 1987 representatives of the various Anglican dioceses met in Grafton where it was decided to form a National Secretariat for the Cursillo Movement in Australia - later known as the Anglican Cursillo Movement of Australia (ACMA). The first meeting of the national body was held in Grafton from November 13-15 of that year. This body is responsible for the maintenance of the authentic Cursillo method and for the oversight of the spread of the Movement to other dioceses.
Since its establishment much progress has been made in learning and understanding what authentic Cursillo is. Cursillo workshops have been established to help Cursillistas gain a deeper understanding of the complete Movement. Progress has also been made in adapting the Roman Catholic literature for use in an Anglican setting, while remaining true to the original concept.
The challenge is an ongoing one.