Cursillo, or a ‘short course’, started in Spain after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939.
To help restore the spiritual life of their war-ravaged country, young men of Spain began to plan a great national pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James at Compostella. The purpose of the pilgrimage was to rededicate young men to the work of Christian mission known as the apostolate.
In planning the pilgrimage, workshops were established for young men to study the fundamentals of Christianity and to spiritually prepare themselves to be apostles of Christ. In addition, schools developed for leaders who would prepare others for pilgrimage. Due to the Second World War the pilgrimage did not take place until the summer of 1948 when some 70,000 young people under the leadership of the Pilgrim Scouts of Spain travelled to the shrine of St. James to pray for the reconversion of Spain.
The Movement, including the three days, the workshops and leaders’ schools, spread from Spain throughout the world. Cursillos are now held in nearly all South and Central American countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico. Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Australia, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and in several African counties.
In 1957 two Spanish airmen and a priest brought Cursillo to Waco, Texas. By 1959, a school for leaders was formed and 18 weekends had been held in Waco. By now Cursillo had spread throughout Texas and into Arizona in the United States.
Up to 1961 all the weekends were held in Spanish. That year (1961) the first English speaking Cursillo was held in San Angelo, Texas and by 1962 there were 25 more English speaking Cursilo weekends and the Cursillo method had spread as far as San Francisco in the West and Michigan in the North. By 1973, out of 170 Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States, 130 had introduced the Cursillo Movement and a National Secretariat was established in 1965.
During this time, many Anglicans in the United States were making their Cursillos as guests of their Roman Catholic brethren. Finally in 1968 in San Francisco, a joint Cursillo of Anglicans and Roman Catholics was held. From that point on Cursillo became an established method of renewal and mission in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican church in the United States.
In 1972 the Cursillo was introduced to the Anglican Diocese of Dallas, Texas, with modifications to fit with the Anglican ethos.
In September 1981 a team from Dallas, Texas, came at their own expense to put on two Cursillo weekends one in the Diocese of Gloucester and one in the Diocese of Cymru (Bangor). As well as the training they gave these Dioceses were also given financial support and a wealth of experience to guide them.
Since those days, Cursillo has grown in Britain so that Cursillo weekends are held regularly in many Dioceses. Southwell ‘gifted’ Cursillo Coventry, Leicester, Lichfield, Salisbury and Wakefield and to Derby in May 2000.
Cursillo in Britain is supervised by the British Anglican Cursillo Council (BACC) and every Cursillo is represented on that Council so that all voices are heard.
Being a member of Cursillo makes you a part of a developing movement throughout the world-wide Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Communion and the Methodist Federation for the renewal of the Church by the conversion of the world to Jesus Christ.