The Beginnings of Cursillo:
Cursillo is a fairly recent movement in the Christian Church. Its beginning was in Majorca Spain in the early 1940's. It did not develop by accident. It began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the young people of their city 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 leaders of this group were Bishop Hervas, the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Majorca, Father Juan Capo and Eduardo Bonin. When the Spanish civil war ended in 1939 it was a time of ferment in the Catholic Church in Spain. Before the war a great pilgrimage to the Shrine of Saint James at Compostela had been planned. The shrine had been a focal point for the Christian faith during the Middle Ages. After several postponements due to World War Two, the pilgrimage was rescheduled for 1948.
Preparation for the pilgrimage provided a sharp focus for the activities that led to the development of Cursillo and helped set the tone. The spirit of pilgrimage is a spirit of restlessness, of dissatisfaction with spiritual lukewarmness, of moving onward. It is also a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood among fellow pilgrims who are striving together to reach the goal of a life fully given to the love of God and humankind. This pilgrim style has come to mark much of the spirituality of the Cursillo Movement.
Those who first developed the Cursillo Movement worked together as a team from the very beginning. They worked as a leaders' 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 of Majorca. Out of their common efforts, something new in the life of the Church was born.
The first Cursillo or short course was conducted in the late 1940's. By the mid 1950's the main outline of the Cursillo method had been developed and refined in Majorca.
The first Cursillos were for young men and were known as Cursillos of Conquest. There was much hostility from those who did not attend Cursillo or church services and indeed from the Church establishment itself.
His efforts in Cursillo earned Bishop Hervas 'banishment' to Ciudad Real, a move which in fact aided the spread of Cursillo through the dispersion of the original leaders.
After the movement spread through the mainland of Spain, it moved to the Spanish speaking South America and finally to North America in 1957, first in Spanish, then in English. By the mid 1970's the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Anglican Church in Canada had embraced the movement and given it an Anglican flavour whilst retaining all that is fundamental and basic to the original concept. From Canada the movement was introduced into Australia. Cursillo is now a world-wide movement with centres in nearly all South and Central American countries, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and in several African countries.