Of Cursillo

The Cursillo Movement began as a Christian renewal movement in the Roman Catholic Church in Spain over 60 years ago.   Before World War II the Roman Catholic Church in Spain experienced what many other churches in many parts of the world have all experienced from time to time. It was in a state of spiritual apathy and stagnation.

To break this apathy in 1948, it was decided to organize a pilgrimage to a place called St. James of Compostella, which is a national shrine in Spain. It is a little old chapel on the rugged coast of Spain that many believe was visited by the original apostle St. James.

A pilgrimage does several things:

  • it encourages a spirit of dissatisfaction with apathy, it gets us out of our rut
  • it encourages a spirit of moving onward, it propels us forward into new spiritual territory
  • it continues our spiritual journey , as we leave the past and travel with God towards a goal, a “promised land” as the ancient Hebrews were led from slavery in Egypt to freedom in their promised land
  • it encourages a spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood as we travel the road together towards our goals.

So in 1948 the Young Men’s Catholic Action Group of Majorca organized a pilgrimage and it is out of their experience that the Cursillo Movement was begun. It began simply as a group journeying and praying together, sharing their Christian lives, studying, acting together and evaluating what they had done and how God had blessed that in amazing ways. The pilgrimage movement evolved into the idea of the Cursillo weekend, a short course in Christianity


Cursillo came to the United States in 1957 when the first weekend was held in Waco, Texas, followed by weekends held in Spanish in the southwest U.S. from 1957 to 1960.

By 1960 the Cursillo Movement had been translated into English and it came to New York and then, later, to Detroit, Miami, Chicago and other major centres. By 1981 every Roman Catholic Diocese in the U.S. had conducted at least one Cursillo weekend. At first weekends were only held for men, but somewhere in the middle of all that growth through the U.S., the first Women’s Cursillo Weekend was held.

In 1970, Cursillo entered the Anglican Church. The American Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican Church in the U.S., began holding Cursillo weekends in the Diocese of Iowa.

Cursillo in Canada

In 1977, with the help of Roman Catholics from New York, the first Canadian Anglican Cursillo weekend was held in Toronto and they in turn helped Montreal organize their first Cursillo weekend in 1981. Since then it has spread both east and west.

Cursillo in Saskatchewan

In 2000, Cursillo became active in  Saskatchewan. Diocese of Edmonton sponsored it.  The original plan was that  Saskatoon Diocese would provide a central location for weekends and Ultreyas in the province, for all 3 Diocese:  Saskatchewan in the north, Saskatoon, and Qu’Appelle. As a consequence the name of the Movement in the Saskatoon Diocese was Saskatchewan Cursillo. The initial Cursillistas worked very hard visiting almost all the churches in the province to  promote Cursillo.  Weekends were held at St. Peters Abbey in Munster. Starting in 2009, weekends there become Co-ed. The last weekend there was in 2010.

In Qu’Appelle Diocese, after a few years we found that the distances were too great to keep up active involvement of those of us further south.    Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson, elected in 2006,   has been an active member of Cursillo for many years. Upon his arrival in Qu’Appelle, he actively promoted and nurtured the growth of Cursillo in hopes that we could  become independent and offer our own weekends.   In April 2008, Qu’Appelle Cursillo hosted a joint meeting of local Cursillistas with a meeting of the Canadian Anglican Cursillo Secretariat in Regina.  They provided encouragement and direction on how to start up a local movement.

In September 2008, Qu’Appelle established our own Secretariat with Rev. Dr. Trish McCarthy as our first Spiritual Director and Carol Marz as Lay Director.  Since  2008 we  have continued to hold 8 Ultreyas per  year in locations across the Diocese.

Qu’Appelle’s first men’s and women’s weekends were held in November 2010 under the sponsorship of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. The Dioceses of Calgary and Edmonton provided team members and financial support.  The Anglican Diocese of Toronto Cursillo Movement also provided financial support. In 2014, the weekends become co-ed.

Cursillo weekends in Qu’Appelle still meet the exacting standards set by the worldwide Cursillo movement, aimed at the same goals of Christian renewal and discipleship.  The Canadian Anglican Cursillo Secretariat that holds Cursillo license for the Anglican Church in Canada supports us in our efforts.