The History of Cursillo
The first Cursillos developed in the Roman Catholic Church in Mallorca, Spain, in the late 1940s. Under the leadership of their bishop, several laymen began to formulate a way to draw active laymen into the work of “Christianizing” the everyday life settings where they lived.
Eventually, the Cursillo Method found interested parties in the United States. The first Cursillo Three-Day Weekend in the United States was held in Waco, Texas, in 1957. At first, these were still held in the Spanish language, and were available only to Roman Catholics. The first English speaking weekend was in 1961 in San Angelo, Texas. In time a few Episcopalians were invited to participate in the weekends.
The first official Three-Day Weekend in the Episcopal Church was conducted with help from Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa in 1970. Soon, weekends were being held in various parts of the country. The first National Episcopal Cursillo Seminar was held in 1975 in the Diocese of Dallas. The National Episcopal Cursillo Committee was formed in Atlanta in 1979.
A common aspect of the history of Cursillo shared by both Roman Catholics and Episcopalians was the fascination with the Three-Day Weekends. For this reason, in many places the Cursillo name was associated only with such weekend experiences. However, deeper study revealed that the Cursillo Method involved much more than just “putting on weekends.” This has caused considerable development within both ecclesial communities, resulting in a better appreciation for what Cursillo is and a sharper, clearer understanding of how to apply the Cursillo Method — philosophically and practically.
Today, that development is proceeding. Such development is characterized by a return to the roots of the movement, and a more comprehensive attempt to define the purpose of the movement in simple, cohesive terms. Cursillo is emerging as a mature instrument in the hands of committed clergy and lay Christians to empower the “ministry of the laity.”