The story of the Cursillo Movement is an exciting one. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the men of their city to know Christ. It grew as they talked, prayed and worked together. It is a story of how a small group of people worked for Christ in such an effective way that it now bears fruit all over the world today.
The first Cursillo in the form we know it today was held on the island of Majorca, Spain, in 1949. But the first stirring of what was to become the Cursillo Movement began on Majorca during the years of the Second World War. The Spanish Civil War had ended in 1939 and the years following were times of ferment within the Spanish Church. The idea was born to have a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St James at Compostela, in North West Spain, which had been a great pilgrimage centre for Western Europe during the Middle Ages.
The spirit of pilgrimage is one of restlessness, of dissatisfaction with spiritual luke-warmness, and was true of the pilgrimage to Compostela. That pilgrimage provided an opportunity for young men and women to dedicate themselves in a renewed way to the work of bringing people to Christ. From the years of planning and preparation came the spirit of Christian action that is at the heart of the Cursillo method.
The idea of a pilgrimage to Compostela led to an even greater idea of a continuing pilgrimage for life. The question arose, how to train Christians who had not been involved in the original pilgrimage in the principles of living in Christian communities? The answer was to run short courses – the Spanish word for this is “Cursillo”. The Movement was born!
It soon spread from Majorca to the mainland of Spain. From there it went (still within the Roman Catholic Church) to the Spanish-speaking countries of South and Central America and then to North America in 1957. Once there it was embraced by the Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. It was given an Anglican flavour, while retaining all that is fundamental and basic to the original concept.
The Movement reached Australia in 1979 and at the invitation of the Bishop of Wellington (Archbishop Brian Davis), was brought to the Diocese of Wellington in 1988 by the Diocese of Brisbane, Australia.