Cursillo FAQ Page


Why was the Cursillo Movement founded in 1944?

The Movement was started in response to the founder’s profound perception that society had ceased to be Christian.
That reality, as the founders saw it, was as simple as this: They saw a world with its back turned on God, Christ, and the Church. They had a deep-seated conviction that life had ceased to be Christian. They felt that the influence that Christianity had, on real life, was just about nonexistent – even in so-called Catholic circles. Thus the founders saw that the whole world needed to be transformed. The goal was clear: to re-Christianize society which had ceased to be Christian. (F.I. # 17-18)

How does the Cursillo Movement define itself?

Cursillo defines itself as “A movement of the Church which, by means of its own method, makes it possible for people to live what is fundamental for being a Christian, and to live it together; it helps people discover and fulfill their personal vocations, and it promotes the creation of core groups of Christians who leaven their environments with the Gospel.”(F.I. #111)

Is The Cursillo Movement Sanctioned by the Catholic Church?

Yes. It operates in obedience to the Archbishop of the local diocese. In the Archdiocese of Ottawa the Archbishop attends many of the Cursillo celebrations and Masses. And our new Auxiliary Bishop Christian Riesbeck is both a Challenger and a Cursillista.

What is the Cursillo Movement’s role in Evangelization?

Pope Paul VI said in his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World that the Church’s essential mission is to evangelize (EN 14), which means bringing the Good News into all levels of humanity and society so as to transform them according to the Gospel (EN 18). The Cursillo Movement offers people the opportunity for a closer encounter with Christ and emphasizes the role of the lay person in being an evangelizer in the family, neighborhood, place of work and with friends and acquaintances. Thus, the apostolic action of each cursillista is a concrete contribution to the work of evangelization.

What is the basic criteria for a candidate?

First, from the beginning of the Movement, the basic criteria for a person being selected has been that the candidate be in a position to receive the sacraments. Non-Catholics, including spouses, should not be accepted for a Catholic Cursillo mainly because the weekend is based on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and essential Catholic teachings. Non-Catholics should be encouraged to participate in whatever renewal program, including Cursillo, that is available to them within their own denomination unless they are seriously considering entering the Catholic faith.

This would be a situation that could be discussed with the Cursillo Spiritual Director before their application to the weekend.

Secondly, those who have psychological or emotional problems or whose moral life is not in order, should not go.

Thirdly, that they have been properly prepared for the weekend and will be taken care of in the Post Cursillo. (L.M. pg. 70/71)

Why does the Weekend have to be strictly Catholic?

It is not that the Cursillo should be for Catholics only but that the Cursillo be denominational because the program should be true to each denomination’s particular teachings, liturgy, etc. The Cursillo is not an ecumenical program. It is a program of renewal within the Church for its own members.


What are the guidelines for couples when one spouse isn’t eligible to make a Cursillo or does not wish to make a Cursillo?

The purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to evangelize environments from within and to, ideally, call forth leaders in that environment. In today’s society there will be situations where a candidate’s spouse may not with to attend the Cursillo weekend. Thus, the reason for guidelines on couples.

When selecting a person for Cursillo, it should be determined if that person is married before preparation for the weekend. Even though the Cursillo Weekend is lived individually, the spiritual life of the couple, both before and after the Cursillo weekend, must be considered. The Cursillo Movement holds the Sacrament of Marriage in the highest regard. Accordingly, it should be discerned if participation in a Cursillo by one and not the other might have an adverse effect on that Sacrament. If so, then some other form of individual spiritual renewal may be more appropriate and beneficial.

However, realizing that every situation is unique, the Ottawa Catholic Cursillo Movement’s Spiritual Advisor is available to discuss particular situations.


What is the difference between a group and a reunion?

A group is the community of persons who comprise it. A reunion is the periodic gathering of the group. In the concept

of ‘group reunion’, there is no reunion unless there is a group of persons to make one, and there is no group unless it makes a reunion. The group reunion has two elements – the group (of persons) and the reunion (the group coming together). Combined, the two elements constitute the total reality of a group reunion, which can be defined as a group of Christian friends who gather together on a regular basis to become better friends and better Christians.

How long should a reunion last?

At an Ultreya, 20-30 minutes. With a friendship group outside of an Ultreya, whatever is convenient for the members, usually one hour.

What is the most important element of the Cursillo Movement?

The Post Cursillo, because as Bonnin, the founder, noted, it is easy to convert persons to Christ, but it is much harder to get them to follow Him. The Cursillo Movement is basically a program of perseverance. The forms of the Post Cursillo, group reunion and Ultreya are meant to help persons persevere in living the Christian life in an ongoing way.

But it is a choice; all the Cursillo Movement can do is offer them.

What is the Challenge Movement?

In the mid-60’s, people in North America began to experiment with weekends of Christian Living for Catholic teenagers using various adaptations of the Cursillo method. In Detroit they decided to call their retreat weekends “The Challenge” and this is where Ottawa, and various others, took their name from.

The emphasis in the Challenge Weekend is a youth-to-youth approach, a live-in weekend environment, a group discussion format and a team approach. The focus of Challenge, as in Cursillo, is on the post-weekend support. Through Ultreyas (‘meeting place’) and other Challenge and Cursillo gatherings, the community provides support for those trying to live as Christians.

In Ottawa the Challenge Movement holds their weekends twice a year. The age group is from 16-25 years old.

More information is available on the Ottawa Catholic Challenge Movement website.