Cursillo is a fairly recent movement in the Christian Church. Its beginning was in Majorca Spain in the early 1940s. 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. In Spain, there was an Anti-Christian movement in the 1930s and this led to many abandoning church attendance and participation. The fact that many men had gone off to fight in the Second World War had only made the situation worse.
The move to bring the young people of Majorca developed as this group of men 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.
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 on 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.
The first Cursillo or short course was conducted in the late 1940s. By the mid-1950s 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.
After the movement spread through the mainland of Spain, it moved to Spanish-speaking South America and finally to North America in 1957, first in Spanish, then in English. By the mid-1970s 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. Cursillo is now a worldwide movement with centres in nearly all South and Central American countries, the USA, Canada, the Bahamas, 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.
The movement was introduced into the Bahamas in the early 1980s when Bishop Eldon, several clergy, and Elaine Deveaux made their Cursillos in the Diocese of Southeast Florida. Bishop Eldon had heard of Cursillo as he sat on his porch listening to a radio broadcast from Miami, which boasted of Cursillo’s influence in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami. Bishop Eldon saw the potential of Cursillo in enhancing the Spiritual Growth of Anglicans in our Diocese, and immediately sought further information which led to the initial group making their weekends in Miami. Over the next few years, men and women from our Diocese made their weekends in Southeast Florida and in other parts of the United States, enabling a Community to be built in the Bahamas.
As a result, a Men’s Weekend & A Women’s Weekend led by Cursillistas from Miami were held simultaneously in October 1986 – The Men’s Weekend at St. John’s College and the Women’s Weekend at St. Mary’s Hall at St. Augustine’s Monastery. Since then 27 Men’s Weekends and 24 Women’s Weekends have been held in the Bahamas. Many Anglicans have had their faith renewed, and their ministries affirmed through participation in these weekends, and their participation in the Fourth Day.