The Cursillo Movement in America

The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants, and Fourth-Day Spirituality

Kristy Nabhan-Warren
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Cursillo Movement in America
    Book Description:

    The internationally growing Cursillo movement, or "short course in Christianity," founded in 1944 by Spanish Catholic lay practitioners, has become popular among American Catholics and Protestants alike. This lay-led weekend experience helps participants recommit to and live their faith. Emphasizing how American Christians have privileged the individual religious experience and downplayed denominational and theological differences in favor of a common identity as renewed people of faith, Kristy Nabhan-Warren focuses on cursillistas--those who have completed a Cursillo weekend--to show how their experiences are a touchstone for understanding these trends in post-1960s American Christianity.Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork as well as historical research, Nabhan-Warren shows the importance of Latino Catholics in the spread of the Cursillo movement. Cursillistas' stories, she argues, guide us toward a new understanding of contemporary Christian identities, inside and outside U.S. borders, and of the importance of globalizing American religious boundaries.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0803-7
    Subjects: Religion, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. PREFACE New Beginnings
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION Finding Christ and Community in America The Significance of Catholic and Protestant Cursillos and the Fourth-Day Movement
    (pp. 1-19)

    The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants, and Fourth-Day Spiritualityis an ethnographically oriented history of the weekend Christian Cursillo movement, the “short course in Christianity,” among American Catholics and Protestants. What is today known interchangeably as the Cursillo (Cursillo de Cristiandad, or CdC) short course in Christianity or the Fourth-Day Christian movement began in 1944 on Mallorca, the largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, as an effort at religious revitalization for Spanish Catholic men.¹ In 1957, thirteen years after their Mallorquín inception, Catholic Cursillos came to American Catholic culture by way of two Spanish Catholic air force pilots stationed...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Los Orígenes Mallorquines Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló and the Birth of the Cursillo de Cristiandad Movement
    (pp. 20-55)

    Sitting around the table in the office of Fundación Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló (FEBA) in Palma de Mallorca, a group of longtime colleagues and friends of Eduardo Bonnín talked at length about his profound faith, humility, and sense of humor. During the course of our conversations that afternoon in June, these Mallorquín Catholics wept as they shared their profound gratitude, and laughed when they recalled funny moments spent with a man they credit with changing their lives. They remember him as an intellectual, a man who “always had a book with him,” and as someone who “never turned anyone away.”


  6. CHAPTER TWO Coming to America The Early History of U.S. Cursillos de Cristiandad
    (pp. 56-83)

    Carlos Calatayud Maldonado made his Cursillo in Ciudad Real in 1956, at the cusp of the Cursillo weekends’ worldwide expansion. Despite Bishop Jesús Enciso Viana’s 1956 pastoral letter that sent Bonnín into exile and forced the three-day Cursillos and group reunions to operate clandestinely, what were now known as Cursillos de Cristiandad, the Hervás-renamed “Cursillos for Pilgrim Leaders,” supported by both Hervás and Bonnín, began to spread around the globe. Mallorquín and other Spanish cursillistas who knew Bonnín and Hervás introduced the weekend course in spirituality abroad.¹ From 1956 until Enciso’s death in 1964, one kind of Cursillo weekend was...

  7. CHAPTER THREE A Focus on Christian Experience The Protestant Cursillos (Tres Dias, Walk to Emmaus, Via de Cristo) and the National Episcopal Cursillo
    (pp. 84-126)

    By the mid-1960s, mainline American Protestants like Bob and Rhoda Franks had heard enough about the Catholic Cursillo weekend to be convinced that they had to experience the three days for themselves. What they were hearing (and seeing) was exciting and intriguing; Catholic friends and relatives talked about changed lives, new relationships with Christ, improved marriages, and, generally speaking, new outlooks on life as a result of their weekend experience. American Catholic cursillistas spoke with enough conviction and passion that they inspired Protestants from a variety of traditions to seek out and make a Catholic Cursillo. In the 1960s and...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Blooming Where We’re Planted U.S. Catholics and Protestants Talk about Living Their Cursillo
    (pp. 127-165)

    For the cursillistas interviewed for this book, making their Cursillo was about becoming a better person. They emerged from the intensive three days as renewed men, women, Catholics, Protestants, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives. For Catholic cursillistas like José Herrera, the weekend experience led them to nothing less than an epiphany. For the first time in their lives as brown-skinned Mexicans, they believed that their individual gifts were important to the future of their Church.¹ For those middle-and upper-middle-class white, non-Hispanic men and women like Sue Davis who made their weekend, the three days of their Cursillo affirmed...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Teens Encounter Christ Pioneer in Young Adult Weekend Experiences
    (pp. 166-198)

    It is a humid and warm summer day in Festus, Missouri, when I finally meet Dorothy Gereke, one of the cofounders of Teens Encounter Christ (TEC), in person, after many long distance phone conversations. Ever the gracious hostess, she insists “Never mind, let’s talk now!” when I unintentionally wake her from a late-afternoon nap at the Drury Inn, where we were staying. Dorothy, formerly known as Sister Mary Concetta of the Detroit-based Sisters of Mercy (1957–68), is now in her late eighties. Today, Dorothy is “a little bit slower than I used to be,” largely because of circulation problems in...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Feeding Bodies and Souls Kairos Prison Ministry International
    (pp. 199-225)

    We meet on a warm Thursday afternoon in May 2010 at a church in southern Indiana, just a few miles from Rockville Correctional Facility, the women’s medium-security prison where the weekend events will take place. Approximately 1,300 female inmates are housed there. As the time neared for us to drive to the prison, the forty-six women present take a moment to hold hands and pray aloud for a weekend where Christ will “touch the hearts” of the female offenders we will be meeting. Hours upon hours of work have gone into the seventy-two-hour event for which these women have been...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Maverick yet Mainstream Christ Renews His Parish and Great Banquet
    (pp. 226-244)

    While the mainline Fourth-Day movements we have encountered so far can trace their roots directly to the Mallorquín weekend Catholic Cursillos, still other movements and encounters have branched off of them. While technically not part of the Fourth-Day movement proper, the off-shoots of Fourth-Day movements share in the major aims and goals of the Cursillo weekend encounters that inspired them. The proliferation of Fourth-Day movements and their off shoots indicates the depth of desire by contemporary American Christian men and women to encounter Christ, experience healing and renewal, and become part of a new community. These off shoots also signal...

  12. EPILOGUE Cursillo Weekends, Fourth-Day Spirituality, and the Future
    (pp. 245-254)

    As we have seen, Catholic and Protestant Cursillos are lay-sponsored, parachurch, church-supported weekend retreats that address individual Christians as important, vital members of the larger Church body. Although some within the Cursillo movement shun the termretreat, in my own experience at a Cursillo and interviewing more than 200 cursillistas between 2005 and 2011, the word accurately captures the intensive spiritual experiences and exercises that happen on a Cursillo weekend, whether Catholic or Protestant. As we have seen, six tables of five to six candidates and one mentor per table eat, sleep, pray, and worship together for seventy-two-hours, from Thursday...

  13. APPENDIX ONE Cursillo Chronology
    (pp. 255-256)
  14. APPENDIX TWO Glossary
    (pp. 257-258)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 259-302)
  16. Index
    (pp. 303-319)