What is Cursillo?


Pronunction: cur-SEE’-yo

Definition: a Spanish word meaning “short course,” or in this case “A Short Course in Christian Living.”

Why participate?: Cursillo is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the teachings of Jesus and how we can serve him. Participants will gain:

  • an experience of living in a loving and caring Christian community.
  • a continuing community that gives support and encouragement, empowering the renewed Christians to persevere in carrying out their Baptismal vows.

But what IS it, really?

Cursillo is a three-day weekend, held at DaySpring Conference Center in Ellenton. Each weekend begins on a Thursday evening and ends Sunday. A Cursillo Weekend is not a retreat, with fasting or extended periods of silence. Rather, it is an experience in Christian education, where participants have an opportunity to meet and learn from clergy and laity who are seeking to strengthen their faith. Shared prayer, worship, study, music, fellowship, laughter, and tears all work together to create a loving atmosphere where you can feel the reality of God’s free and unconditional love. We  celebrate Holy Eucharist daily.

What happens after the weekend?

You will return from the weekend with a renewed commitment to work for Christ. We encourage you to look for opportunities in your home churches and communities to follow the great commission of Christ: that we should be in the world to make disciples of all people, ministering God’s redemptive gifts of love and grace.
Cursillo provides a community of friends who help strengthen each other’s growth in faith. We support you as you develop your own special gifts of ministry. This community meets in two types of groups:

  • Group Reunions – a small group of people who meet regularly (often weekly) for mutual encouragement and support through Prayer, Study, and Action.
  • Ultreyas (Diocesan, Regional, or Parish meetings) – a larger group of people who meet (often monthly) to share their Christian walk. Ultreyas let us encourage each other in our efforts to evangelize our environments.

What is expected of participants?

  • To be open and willing to respond to what you experience. That means sharing your feelings with others and allowing them to share theirs with you.
  • To make a genuine effort to discover where you are and how you can grow in your Christian life.
  • To feel secure in the knowledge that you are accepted where you are and as you are, and to know that a specific response is not expected of you.
  • To be curious enough and thirsty enough for spiritual exploration and nourishment
  • To acknowledge a need to commit a weekend of your life to Christ.

Who can go to Cursillo?

Cursillo is open to all adult Episcopalians who attend a church where a member of the clergy staff has attended Cursillo. Clergy and laity who are seeking a way to deepen their faith or who wish to expand their knowledge of the Christian life are welcome to join. Husbands and wives may attend the same Cursillo weekend or may go on separate weekends.

Each participant has a sponsor, who has attended a Cursillo weekend. The sponsor assists you in preparation for the weekend and after the weekend. If you know someone from your parish who has attended a Cursillo, you can ask them about it. They can answer your questions and help you determine if you would like to go. You may also ask your priest about Cursillo. If you don’t know a person to sponsor you, your priest may make a suggestion. If you decide that you would like to attend a Cursillo, your sponsor can provide you with the application.

The current cost to participants for a Cursillo weekend in the Diocese of Southwest Florida is $200 per person. This includes lodging and all meals at DaySpring, for the three days. We can accommodate special needs, such as diet restrictions or mobility problems. Be sure to note any special needs on the application.

A Cursillo History

The Roman Catholic Church first developed Cursillo Weekends in Majorca, Spain. Spanish airmen stationed at air bases in Texas in the early 1940’s brought Cursillo to the United States. The first official Cursillo Weekend in the Episcopal Church (in English) was conducted with the help of Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa.

Beginning in September of 1977, the Diocese of Central Florida gave spaces on their weekends so that many from our diocese could attend and learn how to organize a weened. By November of the following year, we had enough cursillistas to form our first teams, with the help of a few members from Central Florida. Our Diocese (Southwest Florida) held its first Cursillo Weekends in 1978. Dan and Mary Lemon served as Rector and Rectora of Men’s Cursillo #1 and Women’s Cursillo #1. The Lemons had moved to St. Petersburg from Orlando where they were very active and had served on many teams.