Sunday, January 25, 2015

SCHOOL OF LEADERS SUMMARY by Rick Klarmann, Assistant Lay Director

Deacon Tony Martucci and Dick Hemler did an awesome job talking about the right to life and the charism of Cursillo.  I asked Dick if it was okay to put his talk on the website. He said it was okay and it is below.

The numbers were small but the spirit was definitely present in the talks and sharing. We started off the evening with the Prayer of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade  and a short meditation. 

In the Doctrinal Talk, Tony walked us through the birth of Jesus, the angel warning Joseph to take the child Jesus to Egypt, and what Herod did. I could see in his words how little has changed in 2000 years; Herod thought it was acceptable to kill innocent children to keep his way of life. And if it meant killing hundreds of innocent children to kill the newborn baby (Jesus) it was okay. Why didn't anyone see anything wrong with what was happening and say, "This is wrong! I won't do this!" I sat there wondering how many times I didn't stand up for what is right because I didn't want it to interfere with my way of life. I realize that this has to change.

Then, we took a walk down memory lane asking us to think about what it was like 50 years ago. On TV, husbands and wives slept in separate beds and any violence was done off camera, while today, you see all of the blood and gore and it inst only at a time that children are asleep. He reminded us that living together wasn't the norm and abortion was illegal.

Tony's talk was not only about the rights of the unborn but also about the right to life of all of us. He pointed out that several states have already approved assisted suicide and that once you get your prescription for the pills that will take your life; a doctor is not required to be present. So, if you change your mind after taking the pills, there is no medical help.

We then had a short prayer service which Tony has adapted from the Litany of Life.

Right after the prayer service we had the Techniques Talk presented by Dick Hemler. Dick spoke about the history and purpose of Cursillo--the charism of Cursillo. Rather than write about his talk, I believe it is important to read his words.

On January 22nd, the March for Life took place. We prayed for those who marched and that someday the scourge of abortion will end.

"God does not call us to be successful, but to be faithful." - Mother Theresa


Charism is a word we have heard a lot in the movement in recent years but what exactly is a Charism? Paragraph #798 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

"The Holy Spirit works in many ways to build up the whole body in charity by the many special graces (called Charisms), by which He makes the faithful fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church."

The Foundational Charism of the Movement would be the special graces given to the founders of the Movement. That’s nice but we already have the movement so why is it so important for us to know?

Any idea or movement that gains any sizable following always runs the risk of having followers who want to modify or change the original with “improvements” that they think will make it fit better into their purpose. The problem is that these “improvements” or changes to the original also change the goals and purpose for which the original was developed. While these new or modified versions may well be good and lead to other desirable ends, they leave the original goal unaccomplished. How do you prevent this erosion of purpose and insure that the original goals are met? By continually going back to the beginning to rediscover the Charism which brought it about. To do that, it is necessary to know who the founders are.

You may be surprise to hear that there has been quite a bit of contraversy as to how, when, where and by whom it was actually conceived and started.

The first Cursillo weekend took place on August 19 to 23, 1944 in Cala Figuera. It was the first Cursillo carried out in 3 ½ days and not specifically as a preparation for the 1948 National Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Eduardo Bonnin was the rector. It contained all the structures of the future Cursillos. Fr. Ivan Rohloff, in his book “The origins and development of Cursillo” states “the leadership of Eduardo Bonnin and Gabriel Segui gave birth to the Cursillo de Cristiandad.” The book “Signs of Hope – Picture of seven Ecclesial Movements” by Bishop Paul Josef Cordes who was the Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity through 1995 presents Eduardo Bonnin as the founder of the Cursillo movement. The 1944 date and the listing of Eduardo as rector are from the manuscript of Gabriel Segui, which was presented to Pope Paul VI at his request.

Most of us have heard that the movement developed out of the Spanish Youth Catholic Action movement. While that is partially true, the initial impetus was actually an address given by Pope Pius XII on Feb.6, 1940 where he acknowledged that there were a great number of people who had moved away from the Christian life. He challenged the Church leaders to make every effort possible to bring others back to Christian values. The reading of this address inspired Eduardo, who at that time was not a member of the Youth Catholic Action, to carry out a thorough and deep study of the problem. Eduardo wrote a paper, which even then in 1940 was named STUDY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, in which he concluded that the world was becoming less and less Christian and consequently, Christians were even less influential in their cultural and social environments. That situation stimulated him to develop the Cursillos Movement that we know today.

There were short courses, or cursillos, before the Aug. 1944 date but they were held for the expressed intent of preparing pilgrims for the 1948 pilgrimage to Compostela. It was after attending one of these that Eduardo realized that much of the structure used on that Cursillo weekend, including, at least in name, 5 of the talks given on the weekend, could be adapted for use on the Cursillo de Cristiandad and that in turn lead to much of the structure we use today on the weekend.

Even though Eduardo was the founder of the movement, he didn’t feel free to write a history of the movement because the National Cursillo office of Spain did not accept his account. They wanted to be viewed as the “founder.” While Eduardo didn’t care who would get credit, he did care that the movement would stay true to the Foundational Charism. In “Historia de Un Carisma” Eduardo states:

“It is not through a desire to be recognized as the lead player, but rather in the service of the truth and to clarify concepts and events, that we (Secretariat of Mallorca) have found it opportune to make available to people interested in the Cursillo Movement, what occurred in the beginning, and in this light to make it clearer, always counting on the grace of God, we have tried to be faithful to the intention with which the Cursillos were proposed, prayed, reflected, structured, and for which we give thanks!”

The Mallorcans and many world Cursillo leaders repeatedly asked Eduardo to share his understanding in order to preserve the Foundational Charism while he was still able to do so. His sharing and call to return to the basics have been the basis for much of the reforms we’ve seen in recent years.

Some of those changes such as eliminating Las Mananitas, Serenades, and the involvement of the outside community on the weekends have lead to decisions that have caused a lot of difficulty within our various Diocesan movements including our own. Circumstances here, however, have made many of those concerns a non issue because of the facilities we now have available to us but I’m sure many of us remember the turmoil created before circumstances settled things for us. There were many who thought that the call to go back to the basics caused an awful lot of turmoil for very little real reason. Why did it matter? Let’s look a little closer at one of those changes.

Remember Holiness, Formation, and Evangelization? Many of us experienced the change from the original Piety, Study and Action and, as a result of the effort to return to the foundational charism, the movement returned to the original Piety, Study and Action. This may seem superficial at first but let’s look at Study and Formation to get an idea of what the change really meant. There is a fundamental difference. Study is something a person does; Formation is something a person receives. When I was teaching, I certainly tried to form my students so that they could do those mathematical things society said they needed to be able to do in order to be proficient, productive, and successful. This is what society needs and this is what you need to do to satisfy that need. Formation directs one to a prefabricated model, a mold. It is imitative. Study, on the other hand, can lead a person anywhere; it is creative.

Eduardo Bonnin, in his definition of Cursillo states that “Cursillo intends that the realities of what is Christian become incarnate in the person.” That person then has the freedom to act out of their convictions. We do not have to tell Christians to evangelize just as we don’t have to tell water to be wet. If a person has a true conversion, then evangelizing becomes a part of their nature and they will be most effective in their own unique way in their natural environments. The purpose of Cursillo is to save souls and structure Christianity in the world in order that its goal of making the world more Christian can be achieved. Cursillo accomplishes this purpose and goal by focusing on the conversion of the individual, especially those who are far away. It awakens in us a hunger for God and gives us the tools or method for perseverance, for a progressive conversion. The Movement evangelizes as a consequence of this focus and not by any system. Nothing is imposed or mandated. Cursillo provides the means and method of perseverance, which motivates us to enter into an ever-growing and loving relationship with God. In other words, it drives our Piety.

The word Evangelization tends to lead us into being evangelizers preaching the Good News instead of becoming the Good News. We are either Christians or we aren’t, there is no in-between. We are Christians 24/7. Our actions are a natural consequence of our convictions, of who we are, and not something we do to accomplish a goal, such as evangelizing an environment. If we are truly Christian then Christ is alive in us and present in our environments by our very presence. The likeness of God will emerge in our brothers and sisters when they become aware of God’s love for them. Evangelization of environments is a consequence of the personal conversion that is the focus of Cursillo.

How does this conversion take place? By coming to the realization that God loves us. We start by coming to terms with ourselves, who we are. By realizing that God loves us in spite of all those things we think of as faults. The Almighty, the creator of the Universe, already loves us. We don’t have to change in order to obtain or be worthy of His love. Everything we do is simply a reaction to this great love God already has for us. This knowledge frees us to love ourselves as we are and our brothers and sisters as they are. That freedom is the basis of true lasting friendships, which allow us to help each other grow in our ongoing conversion.

Perseverance is necessary to deepen our discovery of ourselves, of God, and of others. The Movement provides us with a method of perseverance to help facilitate our progressive conversion, the tripod, group reunion, and Ultreya. Our conversion is enhanced through sharing our Christian life. Christian life that is not shared is not lived and if it is not lived it is not shared.

In chapter VI of My Spiritual Testament, Eduardo writes: “If we compare the Cursillo Movement to a tree, we are happy to see that it has grown, but it also hurts us to see that in some places, no doubt with the best of intentions, they have taken the tree of the Cursillos for a Christmas tree and have been hanging lights and decorations - their favorite brilliant ideas – and have gradually been spoiling its clear and simple profile.”

Fr. Frank Salmani points out that: ”the Founder was led by the Holy Spirit and the Cursillo Movement is God’s gift to us - the Church.” He writes: “To tamper with its essence is to interfere with the work of the Spirit. The Spirit gave us this Movement with its method. We have no right to tamper with it. The Cursillo did not invent what is fundamental to being Christian. We are simply carrying on the mission of Christ, which is the mission of the Church.”

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Invitation to all Cursillistas from Terry A. Ginther. Executive Director, Office of Pastoral Life and Mission, Diocese of Trenton

Invitation to all Cursillistas from Terry A. Ginther. Executive Director, Office of Pastoral Life and Mission, Diocese of Trenton

Our Diocese has sponsored a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC every other year since the early 1970’s.  It has been a wonderfully enriching experience of prayer and solidarity for participants of every age.  During my tenure as President of the Catholic University, I witnessed millions of pilgrims coming and going to pray in this magnificent basilica church.  I recall with special fondness the visit of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to the University Campus and the Shrine.

This year the faithful from our Diocese of Trenton will make the pilgrimage on Saturday, November 7th 2015.  I ask that you reserve this date in your personal schedule and your parish/ministry calendar.  There are no particulars available at this time.  The Shrine Staff will be hosting an orientation session for Diocesan Coordinators this coming March 2015.  Father Jeffrey Lee, Diocesan Director for Pilgrimages will be participating as my representative.  I trust that more particulars will follow that meeting.

I am grateful for all that you are doing in service to the people of our diocese.  Thank you for the overwhelming sentiments and prayers that are being offered for me as I continue to recover from surgery.  I look forward to being with you in the coming months.  Thank you for helping to make the 2015 Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception a great opportunity for spiritual renewal.  “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015


From Hoang Tran, National Cursillo Service Administrator:

The 2015 National Encounter will be held at Villanova University in Philadelphia area, PA. The registration form and Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ) are now available to download at:

Thanks to your donation to the $3/yr campaign, the registration fee can now be reduced to $325 per person, which is $60 less than what you paid for at 2013 National Encounter in Hofstra, NY.  If a language group can register at least 150 Cursillistas by April 30, they will get the simultaneous translation during the event. There are only 750 seats available at Villanova University. It is expected to be a fully packed National Encounter.
Thanks to your donation to the $3/yr campaign, Cursillistas in the affiliated Dioceses can enjoy an additional 10% discount for each book order, effective February 1, 2015. That means they can get a total of 20% discount as a benefit of being affiliated with the National Cursillo Movement.

Thank you so much for your continuous Palanca and support!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FOR YOUR STUDY - RAKING LEAVES by Joe Vella, Sr., Trenton 67

Editor's Note: Joe gave the "Study" talk on my weekend, Trenton 71. I will never forget that talk and Joe. 

Raking Leaves

Now that my wife has taken up residence with the Lord, I live with my daughter Barbara and son in law. Allan. They have a large piece of property and I have become the self appointed groundskeeper. With twenty four giant oak trees on the premises raking leaves in the Fall is a gargantuan project. You might say I'm the 'fall guy'.

Raking has afforded me the opportunity to mourn, pray, and reminisce, while all the time raking leaves. I pander to a little amusement, “I'm finally 'big time now' I'm really raking it in.” Yes I pray, why not I have the occasion? While partnered with nature I am inclined to the natural, the supernatural and unexpected, But I ask a contemporary question like should I be wearing my “Life Alert”? I see the birds and for no solid reason old phrases come to mind. “Birds of a feather flock together”. I muse birds are smarter than humans; they fly south for the winter! Then, “He who hesitates fails”, yeah, but he gets another crack at it! Questions come to mind. why is it now that I'm very old I've begun to boast about it?

I'm asked if“the road in my life was bumpy”? My retort is, “I remember when the roads were cobblestones.” Another question is, “How far back can you remember”? Response: “I remember when Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic Ocean”. We sang: “Lucky Lindyup in the sky, lucky Lindy flying so high”.

Ah yes, back to the leaves; they hover, drift and float earthward. They resemble dangling feathers until they are jostled by the wind. As the velocity of the wind increased the brightly colored floaters are remodeled to angry swirling frenzied missiles. I meditate ….....the leaves transition from tender life eager buds of Spring time to radiant colored, but lifelessness in Autumn. I envisage the rabbits,squirrels and deer that share the terrain and conclude that Providence provided me this opportunity to reflect. I have really,finally become “old”. Raking leaves was granting me the time to adjust to this unfamiliar status. What disturbs me the the realization that I have become irrelevant.

These innocent looking leaves are not as simplistic as they may appear. To execute its role the leaf must contain chlorophyll, pigments and carbon dioxide to create oxygen. Have water and provide carbohydrate to the the tree.What a contradiction that these unpretentious appearing leaves should possess such complexity. Now having their energy spent all I discern is discarded falling leaves. But, a melody begins running through my mind......”The leaves of brown came tumbling down, remember in September, that September in the rain.” Which triggered, “It ain't gonna rain no more no more, It ain't gonna rain no more. How in the heck am I gonna wash my neck? When it ain’t gonna rain no more.” Then “Barney google, with the goo goo googly eyes” Old fashioned gems, they just don't write songs like those anymore!

The cessation of human life generally doesn’t end like that of a spent leaf. Our life's end is accompanied with visitations, flowers, religious ceremony and topped off with a delicious repast. Reasoning nudged my mind into restfulness.

The end time for man and vegetation is not identical, the leafs conclusion is at the end of the year, when they begin to fall. Newleaves will return, but man shakes hands with eternity. Quizzical isn't it that sober, uncomfortable thoughts like the finalresting-places of the aged, and their spirit is brought to mind while raking leaves?

At summers end the clouds thicken yet the sun determinedly penetrates. The grisly raised his furry head and sniffed the air sensing theapproach of winter and hibernation. I too incline my head and mind. My senses sniff arrival of sunless, leafless harsh inevitable winter. The leaves are so light that they sidle on their decent. The comparison of an inhospitable winter is incongruous with the friendliness which prevails during the raking of leaves.

I perceive nothing audible, unless leaves floating are audible. The swishing of wings from birds winging by produce something slightly audible. However, no man, as pragmatic as he pro-ports to be,........ relies on organisms........ he puts his trust upon his revered non audible silent prayers. The leaves are hardly heard, but they are heard to the same extent men are heard , when they gently alight to their final resting place.

Raise up your gaze and witness leaves falling in meek surrender to destiny. A pageantry of color, red, yellow and brown, an unusual combination! The recognition of life waning intrudes on my thoughts. The trees are relinquishing their memories. The spring when it comes will replenish the leaves, but not restore those rich and abundant recollections of what was taken for granted. It is in such a state of mind of reproduction and of accomplishment that the dead leaves fall. The profoundness and substance of such genesis are beyond my limitations. Yet I am aware that each leaf is distinct and so are we. And all this from raking leaves?

It is curious, that at this distinct time of the year while raking leaves Providence has allowed me to to inquisitively contemplate the relationship between nature and humankind.

Some conclusions remained unsubstantiated, but the subject of destiny was explored.

These self observations are appropriate at autumn time, most pensive mortals perceive them. The air is noticeably different and yet the same; the morning hints of a gradual turnover heralding subtle messages of a waning irretrievable span of time.

The evenings kindle thoughts of family, sweetheart, contentment, and the comfort of home. The musing acting like a stimulus quickening the mingling with human sensitivities and prepare me for a greater glory.

It is in this setting that at the arrival of autumn, that Divine doctrine has deposited itself. A sentinel poised at the gate of the season, the guardian; and at its close the day I rejoice. I am assured of this: the Prince of Darkness grieves when I am raking leaves.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Offered by Loyola Press, Sunday Connection offers background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings.

It can be found at

Thanks to Matt Oleynick for sharing this link.