Diocese Marks 75 Years of Cursillo
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
August 1, 2019
HAMPSHIRE— “Cursillo is a short course in Christianity bringing people to a closer relationship with Christ,” said Ken Meeker, a member of Holy Cross Parish in Batavia. 
He serves as the English-language coordinator and volunteer Cursillo lay director of the Rockford Diocese. 
The Cursillo apostolic movement began in Majorca, Spain, by a group of laymen in 1944.  People who take part in a Cursillo weekend are called cursillistas. In the Rockford diocese they continue to strengthen their faith journey together on a regular basis.
Meeker’s counterpart, Marisela Rodriguez Garcia of St. Joseph Parish in Aurora, recently served as the Spanish-language coordinator. She has been a devoted cursillista since spring 2001. 
Manuel Martinez of St. Monica Parish in Carpentersville serves as the new Spanish-language coordinator of the diocese.
The three leaders were joined by over 100 devoted male and female cursillistas from the diocese at St. Charles Borromeo Church, here, on July 27 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Cursillo. 
The day began with Mass and was followed by a casual picnic in a local park near the church.
Father Manuel Gomez, parochial vicar of St. Monica Parish in Carpentersville and spiritual director of the Spanish-language Cursillo program, celebrated the anniversary Mass. Father Godwin Asuquo, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in McHenry, is the diocese English-language coordinator.
In his homily, Father Gomez said, “In Genesis, God said that it is not good for man to be alone. It is not easy to follow the life of Christ. We are gathered to be here together in the presence of the Eucharist and when we are together, we are stronger.”
Once a man or woman completes the Cursillo weekend, they meet regularly for informal meetings in their own parish focused on faith participation, study and discussion, and apostolic mission. The bond of the cursillistas was apparent at the casual picnic. 
“We speak about God in opportunistic moments to family and friends or at work,” said Meeker, “but never heavy handed or on a soapbox. In our meetings we share our experiences.”
A cursillista for the past 16 years, he said “Cursillo changed my life. I thought I was a good Catholic but realized I was just going through the motions. It is now my way of life. Cursillistas have become my circle of trusted friends.”
Garcia recently attended the national Cursillo conference in Scranton, Pa., and will become a leader at the world level serving as vice president of the North American and Caribbean region. 
“The lay founder of Cursillo, Eduardo Bonnin Aguilo, is now on the path to sainthood,” she said, “with many small miracles attributed to him.”  
She agrees with Meeker on the importance of the strong friendships she has formed here and throughout the world with fellow cursillistas. 
“I recently had a stem cell transplant and had many prayers offered for me by my cursillistas. There is a sense of no boundaries of language, race or social class. Just support and love,” she said.
They all hope to spread the good news of Cursillo throughout the diocese and briefly speak about Cursillo at local parishes. 
A Cursillo weekend includes prayer, fun, and fellowship. Each day has a  particular focus, which includes oneself, Jesus, and community through programs of spiritual growth such as piety, study, and action.
Donna Herrmann, the post-Cursillo secretariat, is a member of St. James Parish in Lee. She has been a cursillista since 2015.  
“I find joy being with like-minded people,” she said. “These are holy people who believe in their faith.”
There are over 2,000 male and female cursillistas involved in the English and Spanish Cursillo movement in the diocese.