Cursillo – Christian living
Biddy Collyer listens to the experience of people whose lives have been transformed through Cursillo; a useful way of exploring one's identity in Christ.
A Spanish word pronounced ‘Koor-see-yo’ meaning “short courses in Christian living”, Cursillo is an organisation that was started in Majorca in 1949 by Eduardo Bonnin. Its express purpose was to find a way to bring people who are currently outside of the Church to Christ, by equipping those within the Church. Nearly 70 years on and it is in nearly every Diocese of the UK and endorsed by both Archbishops.
The initial connection is through a three-day course where participants are enfolded in the love of God, expressed through those who serve them. From the moment they arrive on a Thursday afternoon, they are encouraged not to lift a finger, which can be hard for those who are independently minded.
The structure is based on 15 short, ten-minute talks, five each day. The three themes are: ‘What does Christ see in me?’, ‘What do I see in Christ?’ and ‘What is Christ saying to me?’ The local version gives plenty of space too for personal reflection around these deep questions. Support throughout is given through table hosts who look after four people each, and spiritual advisers.
Barbara and Roger Harrold were introduced to Cursillo by the Revd Jane Atkins, 15 years ago when she sponsored them to go on a weekend in Leicester. Following that, the group in Leicester then ‘gifted’ the first one in Norfolk, undertaking all the arrangements. Since then there have been 10 further weekends which are now held in The Pleasaunce in Overstrand; the next one is taking place from 30 June to 2 July this year. Barbara says she can see the change in people by the time they leave “in their shining eyes and their grins!”
The weekend clearly has a lasting impact. “It is a very gentle, nurturing experience,” said participant John Taylor. “The atmosphere gave me the space and encouragement to think through where I see myself in relation to Christ and what he wants from me.” It confirmed to him that his decision to go forward for Reader training was the correct one. He unreservedly recommends it to others.
For those who want to take it further, small group reunions are encouraged, emphasising action, prayer and study. Some meet monthly, others less frequently and some, because of distance, meet via Skype. What is clearly different from other types of retreat is that, after that first weekend, participants can return on future weekends to serve and support others.
Each year an Ultreya (meaning: onwards and upwards) is held in Norwich Cathedral. This gives the opportunity for everyone who has been impacted by Cursillo to come together for a bring-and-share lunch, songs, prayers and a witness talk where people can say how God has been working in their lives recently.
I left the Harrolds’ excited and challenged by the vision of a Cursillo weekend. I think I may find my way to The Pleasance this June…
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