History of Cursillo

 

The Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Catholic Church. The Spanish word Cursillo means short course and is often associated with a three day weekend.  The proper name is Cursillo de Cristiandad (short course of Christianity).  However, there is much more to the Cursillo Movement than just a three day weekend.

 

This Movement originated in Spain in the 1940's. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the young men of their city of Mallorca, Spain to know Christ better. It developed as they 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 story of the Cursillo Movement is exciting. It's filled with the adventure of new discoveries and works of outstanding dedication, tragic misunderstandings and setbacks, as well as impressive patience. These young men and the clergy who supported them endured many unpromising situations in the faith that God would work.

 

But it is even more an exciting story on the spiritual level. It is the story of how God taught a group of men how to work for Him in an effective way, a way that bears fruit. In the late 1940's the first Cursillo was given and the Cursillo Movement began.  The first Cursillo was neither a lucky accident nor a blueprint which came directly from heaven, but grew out of a process of development. The first leaders had been working together for some time trying to bring men to Christ so they could work together to Christianize the world.  It grew in the climate of spiritual renewal. It was developed by men of prayer who were seeking to serve the Lord and was formed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit working in men who had dedicated themselves to bringing others to a knowledge of Christ.

 

The Cursillo Movement came to birth in the movements of renewal that preceded the second Vatican Council. Vatican II was such a major event in the history of the modern Catholic Church that there is a certain tendency to date everything from the Council. But Vatican II was itself born out of an effort of spiritual and pastoral renewal that had begun years before. The liturgical movement, the scriptural renewal, Catholic Action and other movements of the lay apostolate had begun years before the Council. Everywhere in the Church, people were seeking to find ways of "bringing the Church to life in the hearts of men" (Romano Guardini).

 

The leaders worked as a 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 at the task of forming Christian life among the young people in Majorca. Out of their common efforts, something new in the life of the Church was born. Church renewal, spiritual renewal, pastoral renewal, the pilgrim style, a pastoral plan, teamwork among leaders - the Cursillo Movement grew out of all these things. It developed not by accident nor through a clearly specified plan, but was an organic development of the efforts of a group of men who had dedicated themselves to the work of God.

 

Cursillo was brought to the United States in 1957 and then to Canada a few years later.  It is now flourishing throughout the world.

Eduardo Bonnin (1917-2008), Founder of Cursillo
 
Biography of Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló, Founder of the Cursillos in Christianity

Source: Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló Foundation, Mallorca, December 18, 2013
 
Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló was born in Palma de Mallorca on May 4, 1917 in his residential home where Bar Niza now stands. He was born to a catholic family, who was dedicated to the trade and export of grains and dried fruit in the semi-wholesale market.

He was the second of 10 children, born from the marriage between D. Fernando Bonnín Piña and Dª Mercedes Aguiló Forteza.
 
His first studies were at the school “Escuela Francesa” in LaSalle College, and his intellectual formation was with the Augustinian Priests, and especially with professors his parents hired to teach him at home. However, Eduardo stated that the first professor in his life was his grandfather Jorge, who taught him the love of reading. Eduardo was convinced that “nothing influenced me more than my obstinate and always growing interest for reading”.
 
In 1936, he had a determinant experience in his life: the obligatory military service far away from home. Simultaneously two sources of conflicting knowledge entered into his life: “reality” from direct contact with the profane people of the battalion and “idealism” from his books.
 
By pure providence, a text from an address given by Pope Pius XII to the parochial pastors and “cuaresmeros” in Rome, on February 6, 1940, fell into Eduardo’s hands. The Holy Father looked for “new roads”, different from what was usual in order for all, but especially that the far away know the love of God.
Three principles become the basic guidelines of Eduardo’s Mentality: the Love of God, Friendship, and the Person; especially the far away.

In 1943, at the Lluch Sanctuary, he participated in the second “Cursillo for Advanced Pilgrims Leaders”, because they convinced him. He saw that the message was good, the servants of the message seemed quite boring to him, and he said those needed to be refreshed. It was not only necessary to prepare leaders to go to Santiago, but for life itself as well.
 
The crucial moment in the genesis of the Cursillos in Christianity was the phase that immediately followed that Holy Week of 1943, in which Eduardo relates what was lived at the “Cursillo for Advanced Pilgrims Leaders” with his personal and profound restlessness and his catalyzing experience of the de-Christianized environments. He came to the conclusion that something, though similar and different from that “Cursillo for Advanced Pilgrims Leaders”, could in fact bring about the dynamics of Christianity; not just in an isolated predetermined event like the Pilgrimage to Santiago, but also in the daily and normal lives of real and concrete environments.

The first Cursillo, according to the outlines of Eduardo, was celebrated in a chalet of Cala Figuera de Santanyí in Mallorca from August 20th through the 23rd of 1944. The Spiritual Director of that first Cursillo in Christianity in history was Reverend D. Juan Julia, acting as Rector was Eduardo Bonnín, and as “professors” were Jaime Riutord and Jose Ferragut.
That meeting had already included the essential elements of a Cursillo in Christianity.

The Cursillo in Christianity started in August of 1944 and were officiated and enumerated starting with the one on the 7th of January of 1949. The Spiritual Director for “Cursillo #1” was D. Guillermo Payeras and the Rector was Eduardo Bonnín.

The seed of Cursillo has expanded all over the world and Eduardo has gone after it, fertilizing and leavening those environments in which it has been called to grow. “I do not have a kilometer counter on my feet” was one of Eduardo’s sayings; in order to avoid reviewing the international itinerary of his life to slip away from the importance it gave him to have proclaimed the Gospel. Eduardo was in China three times.
 
In 1966 he travelled to Brazil, New York and Peru; in 1967 he was in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Miami and participated in the 3rd National Gathering of Leaders in Guadalajara. On May 4, 1968, he attended the Ultreya of Fatima….In 1998, after a decade, he returned to Chile and went to Tuvulu, Santiago, Valparaiso and Termuco. That year, he also travelled to Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico and was in Ravena and Padua…

There is consistency of the leavening that was produced by that seed across the five continents.
 
As he would say, after an entire life dedicated to love of God and of people, he was always content, but not satisfied.
On February 6, 2008, Eduardo Bonnín passed away. He was buried in the atrium of the Capuchin church and his tombstone states the words he always said of himself: “An Apprentice Christian”.
 
Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló Foundation, Mallorca, December 18, 2013