Cursillo is life-changing, leaders say

A Cursillo — meaning a short course in Christianity — is a global Catholic movement aimed at bringing people closer to Christ. And it changed everything for Patricia Williams, the archdiocesan Cursillo coordinator.

Attending a Cursillo weekend is the best decision she’s made in her faith journey, she said during a recent interview.

“It made me see things differently,” Williams said. “When I do the things I do for the church, I realize I’m not just doing it for the people but for Christ.”

Women in the Archdiocese of Louisville will have the opportunity to attend a weekend Cursillo event Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the Flaget Retreat Center on Lewiston Drive. A men’s weekend is planned for May.

Though it starts as a weekend, Williams said, Cursillo is a “change for life.” 

“Cursillo helps us to find our mission, what God wants us to do,” she said. 

The Cursillo weekend includes the celebration of Mass, rosary, Stations of the Cross, the sacrament of reconciliation and presentations by members of the clergy and laity. Williams said it also offers plenty of time for reflection, fellowship and “building camaraderie.” 

Each participant is assigned a sponsor — an individual who’s completed a Cursillo weekend and is active in the movement, she said. 

“The sponsor is there to hold their hand and answer questions,” said Williams. “You’re building a friendship along the way.”

Following the weekend, participants continue to meet in groups, which include their sponsors. Williams said these meetings are for sharing “holy moments.” The groups help individuals “see where Christ is working in their lives,” she said.

Some groups have met for 10 to 20 years, Williams noted.

Cursillo will mark its 60th anniversary in the archdiocese next year.

Ken Jackey, a leader in the local Cursillo movement, said the first weekend event was held in the archdiocese in 1964. At least 90 events have been held since then, Jackey said. 

“It’s life-changing,” he said, noting that he attended a weekend in 1999. 

Until that moment, Jackey said, he “knew a lot about Jesus, but didn’t know Jesus in a personal way.”

He’s been active in the movement since then, even recording some of the movement’s history, he noted.

Jackey, a member of St. Bernadette Church, said Cursillo originated in Spain. It was started in the early 1940s by Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló, who was born in Palma de Mallorca in 1917. 

“Pope Pius XII asked leaders to make every effort possible to bring people back to the church because they were leaving in droves,” Jackey said. 

Bonnín answered the pope’s call and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he created Cursillo, said Jackey.

For the first time, in 1957, a group of U.S. airmen in Texas attended a Cursillo weekend and from there, it spread throughout the country, Jackey said. 

In 1964, a group from Louisville did a Cursillo weekend in Cincinnati and used the knowledge they gained to start the movement here in the archdiocese, he said. 

“It’s lasted all these years,” said Jackey.

Cursillo is now held in at least 40 countries and four million individuals have experienced it, he noted.To learn more about Cursillo and the upcoming weekend event, visit

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Ruby Thomas
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