Chicago Cursillo History
The First Cursillo
Cursillo (pronounced "kur-see-yo") is a Spanish word meaning "short course" - short course in Christianity. The Cursillo started in Spain in the late 1940's and spread throughout the Spanish speaking countries of the world. It came to the United States in 1957 when Spanish Air Cadets, training at Lackland AFB, in Waco, Texas held a Cursillo weekend for a group of Spanish speaking men. It quickly spread throughout the southwest. The first English language Cursillo was held in 1961 in San Angelo, Texas, and that year, the movement spread to a dozen other states, including Illinois.
The first English-speaking Cursillo in the Midwest occurred over the weekend of May 17-20, 1962 at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago. That gathering of twenty-seven laymen and three priest candidates had roots going back to the very first three days held in the monastery of San Honorato on the Island of Majorca, Spain in January, 1949.
The First Chicago Cursillo
It was a team of men from Phoenix, Arizona which brought both the Spanish and English Cursillos to Chicago. Many of the men from that first Cursillo formed the team for the second weekend in Chicago. Additional weekends continued to be held in Chicago. The first Chicago Cursillistas formed teams to bring the Cursillo Movement to such locations as Rockford and Joliet IL, Milwaukee WI, Fargo ND, Atlanta GA, and Dubuque IA. In 1964, the first Chicago women's Cursillo was held at Mundelein College.
Over the past fifty (50) years, the Chicago Catholic Cursillo has moved from its beginnings at Old St. Pat's to a variety of retreat centers located throughout the diocese. We continue to sponsor 4 weekends each year, usually a men's and women's each spring and fall. The Cursillo Movement, with its emphasis on personal evangelization ("make a friend, be a friend, bring your friend to Christ") and accountability (group reunion), has made a tremendous impact on the lives of many Catholics and the environments in which they live. We celebrate fifty (50) plus years of Walking with Jesus and pray that God sends forth His Spirit so we may continue to work to renew the face of the earth.