What is Cursillo?

Pronounced Cur-SEE'-yo, Cursillo is a spanish word meaning "short course"


Cursillo is a Short Course in Christian living


At the beginning of a Canterbury Cursillo AGM Eucharist service held at Canterbury Cathedral, the Venerable Sheila Watson, the then Archdeacon of Canterbury addressed the congregation:


"It is a delight to welcome you here on behalf of the Cathedral Community for this annual service. I have just come from a meeting of Archbishop's Council where we are looking at our diocesan priorities - I wish I could have brought everyone with me because you are wonderful living examples of what we are talking about!

At the heart of our diocesan mission is growing spiritually as well as numerically: something you know all about in Cursillo. We'll experience it in today's celebration. Alongside that growth we see our need to reimagine ministry - to bring about that vision of lay and ordained working together, valuing each other, rediscovering God's call. Again you can show us the way in Cursillo. You don't just talk about it, you live out lay and ordained leading together in your weekends and meetings. AND you turn your back on any gap between everyday life and Christian commitment - so our desire in the diocese to build partnerships and communities is well understood.

But most of all I only have to look at you to be reminded you make it fun with that riot of rainbow colour - so let's enjoy walking in the light of the Lord!"


As you can see, Cursillo is a special organisation, but WHAT EXACTLY IS CURSILLO?


Cursillo is:

  1. An opportunity to grow in faith and in spirituality.
  2. A deeper understanding of the teachings of Jesus and how we can serve Him.
  3. An experience of living and sharing with others in a loving and caring Christian community and realizing that this can be extended into our own environment
  4. A continuing community that gives support and encouragement empowering the renewed Christians to persevere in carrying out their Baptismal vows



Cursillo includes a three-day weekend which begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday. During these three days, talks are given by lay persons and clergy who have spent time working together carefully planning and preparing for the Weekend.

The Cursillo weekend is not a retreat. There is no fasting or extended period of silence. The weekend is an opportunity to share and worship with clergy and laity who are seeking to strengthen their faith. It provides an opportunity through communal prayer, worship, study, fellowship, laughter, tears, and love to experience the reality of the gift of God's love freely and unconditionally given. 




The first Cursillo Weekends were developed in the Roman Catholic Church in Majorca, Spain. Cursillo was brought to the United States by Spanish airmen who were stationed at air bases in Texas in the early 1940's. Cursillo has been running in the Canterbury Diocese for over 25 years.




Each individual who returns from the weekend with a renewed commitment to work for Christ is encouraged to join in the activities of an existing community of persons who have also experienced the weekend. The purpose of this community is to give strength and support to each other in order that each person might grow in faith and develop their particular gifts of ministry. The support is provided through two methods:


GROUP MEETINGS (Reunions) that are held frequently when several people gather together for mutual encouragement and support through PRAYER, STUDY, and ACTION.


AREA MEETINGS (Ultreyas) that are meetings of larger groups of people who have either participated in a weekend or who might be interested in doing so. Here they share and witness to others so that the Church and their own faith may be built up.



Cursillo is open to all Baptised Christians over the age 0f 21, men and women, married or single. Laity and clergy alike are invited to join the fellowship. Husbands and wives may attend the same Cursillo Weekend, or they may go on different weekends.



WHAT IS EXPECTED OF PILGRIMS? (the name given to participants on Cursillo)


To be open and willing to respond to what you experience, to share your feelings with others, and to allow them to share theirs with you.

To make a genuine effort to discover where you are and where or how you can grow in your Christian life.
To feel secure in the knowledge that you are accepted where you are and as you are, and to know that a specific response is not expected of you.

To be curious enough and thirsty enough for spiritual exploration and nourishment to acknowledge a need to commit a weekend of your life totally to Christ.




Yes, there is a cost but NOT to the Pilgrim. Cursillo Weekends are, at present, funded by money raised from events but mainly from donations by previous pilgrims who feel that this extraordinary experience is something that must be shared. A Cursillo Weekend consists of: three nights lodging, meals, and materials necessary for the weekend. The venue for Cursillo weekends is the Friars, Aylesford, just outside Maidstone.




Please contact the Lay Director and Spiritual Director (contact details are shown in "About Canterbury Cursillo") if you are thinking of applying and yet have some questions that are making you hesitant, or if you are unsure how to apply.


Normally, it is best to find someone in your church who has already attended a Cursillo weekend. If you express an interest to them they should find someone to sponsor you.


Every pilgrim has a "sponsor", who has attended a Cursillo weekend. This sponsor will assist you in preparation for the weekend and, more importantly, assist you after the weekend. If you know someone in your parish who has attended a Cursillo weekend, ask them to tell you more and how to get started. Pray about it, and if you conclude that you should go, submit an application that your sponsor will provide.