A Message from Mary Weis, Assistant Lay Director

Our Day of Reflection was so different and thought provoking! For those of you who weren't there, you missed a great one!

We saw a video of what it would look like if Jesus was born today! Aaah, questions!! Would you have the same faith??

Also, consider Christ's birth:  how does that relate to our tripod?

What about mercy and how can we bring that to our own daily lives of living our 4th day???

Many thanks and blessings go to our speakers today - Father Ed, Deacon Tony and Sister Clara who made this all possible! 

God bless you!! Merry Christmas!!

DeColores, Mary 


At yesterday's session, Marie Garrett shared a document about the Year of Mercy: The Holy Door and its meaning. A document about the Holy Door can be found at this link

A list of the thirteen Holy Doors in the Diocese of Trenton can be found at this link


The cover story in the December, 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine is "How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman." The opening line of the article reads "Mary barely speaks in the New Testament, but her image and legacy are found and celebrated around the world." 

The issue is currently available at stores or can be read at this link. An accompanying TV show will be shown on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, December 13 at 8PM.


As Thanksgiving approaches, it is a time to reflect on the gifts we have enjoyed during the past year while we look to the future.  My life is blessed each of you, my Trenton Cursillo family.  I am truly grateful for each and every one of you; without you all there is no Trenton Cursillo.  Thank you for your prayers and your willingness to serve.  

Each of us, during our Cursillo encounters heard the words, "Christ is counting on you." To which we replied, "I am counting on Christ."  As Christians, we are other Christs, so not only do we rely on our Lord and Savior but each other (other Christs).  Thank you for being there, sharing your talents and your heart.  

We have an awesome community, that comes together in prayer when someone needs it. A community that comes together in celebration, but also comes together to be strength for those who need to be lifted up.  Please continue to pray for our movement. God bless and keep you and may you all have awesome Thanksgiving.

SCHOOL OF LEADERS by Mary Weis, Assistant Lay Director

"Our School of Leaders today was exceptional! Father Jay gave us a talk about how to live our Fourth Day in the jubilee year of Mercy and urged us to read the pope's bull on declaring 2016 the Year of Mercy. We are called to evangelize, not alone, not only with Jesus, but with our faith community. All of this on his very birthday! God bless Father Jay! 

We also took time to memorialize our "spiritual ancestors" who have helped us to live our Fourth Day by sending them messages of love.
Please join us December 19 for a Day of Reflection when we can prepare for the coming of Christ during the Advent season, 9 to 1pm."



Please join us on December 19, 2015
from 9:45am (after 9am Mass) to 1pm
for a Day of Recollection at Epiphany Church

In place of School of Leaders, we will be celebrating a Day of Recollection.

What a wonderful gift to our baby Jesus to spend quality time with Him during the season of Advent and prepare for the coming of Christ.

Please join us for prayer, talk, and reflection. Your presence is appreciated.


The Metuchen Cursillo Movement will have the Metuchen #26 Women's Weekend October 22-25. "Behold the Lamb of God" is the theme.

A candidate from Trenton, Amy Sechiano from Mary, Mother of God, Middletown will be on the weekend. 

ALL Cursillistas from Trenton Cursillo are welcome to attend:
  • Sponsor’s Mass on October 22nd  at 7:00pm at the Days Inn, 1260 US-22 East, Bridgewater (entrance in the rear of the building).
  • The Closing Ceremony will be held on Sunday, October 25 at approximately 3:00pm.  Please come to support and hear the witness of our new Cursillistas.  You will surely feel the encouragement and a reminder that our Lord is present among us.
Our prayers and best wishes go to the candidates and the team.


A Centurions for Christ weekend at Malvern Retreat Center will take place November 6, 7 and 8. If you know a Veteran of any conflict era who suffers from PTSD and would like to experience this weekend, please contact Len Capobianco 732.308.7277 or 732.600.1286.

The mission statement for Centurions for Christ best describes the three day experience: "Our mission is to provide a three day retreat for veterans of all eras/conflicts, who are suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where they can find peace of mind, relief from stress and the unburdening Love of God."


Photos from the 2015 National Encounter are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalcursillo/show/

SCHOOL OF LEADERS UPDATE By Mary Weis, Assistant Lay Director

Today's School of Leaders was inspiring, enlightening, fulfilling and challenging.

We heard Sister Clara speak of Pope Francis' Joy of the Gospel chapter on evangelization. "To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world...Peace harmonizes every diversity" and the new evangelization calls us to be peacemakers.

Renewed, we then recommitted ourselves to Christ using our service sheets from the weekend. Our large group heard from Ronnie Martella and Pat Burke what the National Encounter meant to them as well as a beautiful, powerful witness from Bob Burke.

Johnny and Roe DiStefano, the dynamic duo, challenged us to be friends with God and each other. We walked away with goodie bags of "Friendship" containing helpful reminders to use along life's journey.

What a morning!


Beloved Cursillistas,

Where are your THOUGHTS?
Where do you spend your TIME??
Where do you spend your MONEY??

These three hard-hitting, yet simple questions were posed to us in the Ideal Rollo; the very first talk on our Cursillo adventure.  Seeing everyone at the picnic this past Saturday brought to light how we had all answered God’s Call in so many unique ways and how gently but persistently God reminds us of our service sheets and the commitment we made to HIM Alone on our weekends.

Recently we had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Rick and Lisa’s son, John Klarmann and the wonderful mission The Lord has given him as a lay missionary to college students at Montclair State right here in New Jersey.  As we spoke with John the image of St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta came to mind.  No, John wasn’t going off to India as so many have, but he was serving the Lord right in his environment, in a way unique to John and the person Our Lord created him to be--working on college campuses to bring our Catholic youth to Christ.

Brothers and sisters-in-Christ, John needs our prayer support and knowing the loving and prayerful community we are, we will pray for him as he begins his two-year adventure for Christ.  Pray our Merciful and Loving God will give him the wisdom, strength, faith, hope and charity to carry out this mission in HIS Name.  John also needs our financial support.  Surely, those of us who are able to do so, will also support John financially in this most urgently needed out-reach to the future Church.  The website for the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is www.focus.org/goto/johnklarmann or www.focus.org to learn more about this wonderful mission which has the blessing of Our Holy Father and surely the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Eduardo Bonnin said when speaking of the Cursillo,  I realized that this was not a dream, or an exhortation of our youth, but a Charism of the Holy Spirit.  Surely our Merciful Lord will bring to completion the Good work HE began in John and in all of us!

Forever DeColores!
David and Mary Ann Dowd xo xo 


Matt Oleynick suggests this site that includes Daily Reflections and Online Retreats and other resources from Crieghton University.


Our School of Leaders Saturday was awesome. We heard from our beloved Deacon Tony Martucci who spoke about the Pope's book Joy of the Gospel, Chapter 2. The Pope states that profits are more important than the environments, and the world suffers from a lack of ethics. As Catholics we must take the gospel and give it "flesh". We must evangelize our culture and not hide our faith in the workplace or with the family. Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment.

Pat Burke followed by confessing how much she loves this book! The Pope's book coupled with The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly give her the formula for living a Christian life, following Christ's way, and developing a better understanding of being a true disciple.

Editor's Note: Pat shared a daily "prayer process" from Matthew Kelly that can be found at this link.

We grouped on how our fathers and our "father figures" in our lives have helped us shape our Christian faith. Tara Mika graced us with her beautiful voice in song.

There was much discussion and sharing, with plenty to take home and consider.

Please be with us for our next School of Leaders August 22,at 9:45, following the 9am mass at Epiphany in Brick.

De Colores!


Kathy Vlcej and Jean Santiago remind us to “Stop”
and pray for candidates and for each other. 

(Picture taken at Jeremiah House, Keyport, New Jersey in 1999) 


I want to thank Ronnie and the community for your confidence in me. With the Grace of God and your continued prayer I am hopeful that I can be the servant you need. In my nervousness Friday night there were some things that were left unsaid.

As Friday approached, I had been inundated with doubts and concerns. Thoughts like, “Lord, what were You thinking?” Followed immediately by, “What was I thinking? I can’t do this.” I am fairly certain that just about every person who was installed as Lay Director has had the same thoughts. Well, I don’t know if what I am feeling is fear or nervousness or apprehension or maybe a combination of all of them. In my head, I know that God is with me, but I must tell you there are other voices that are often pretty loud. So many times in the bible we hear God or an angel say, “Do not be afraid”. I think that is because God knows how we are wired, and that often our confidence is just an illusion. I think being anxious might be a good thing; keeps me from thinking too much of myself.

To all of the former Lay Directors, I want to tell you from my heart that I am humbled to be in your shadow. Each Lay Director before brought their own talents and gifts and the prayers of this community with them wherever they went. So I am nervous and anxious. Apologies but that is the way I am wired, but the important part of my nervousness is a sense of confidence that God is with us and in you.

I need your prayers every step of the way. I need your prayers when we agree and when we don’t. I need your prayers that I hear and follow God's whispering rather than my own loud voices. I was reminded this past weekend that, “God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called.” I continue to pray that she is right. The distance from my head to my heart, from hearing it to believing it, is often the longest distance I travel.

So again, I ask you to pray for everyone on Secretariat so that we can be faithful servants to our Cursillo community and to the larger community we walk among—that moveable square meter. So that we become walking talking billboard sharing the love of Jesus, the Joy of the Gospel, wherever we go and with everyone we meet. Our moveable square meter.

I wish my son John was here so I could tell him how proud of him I am but also how much my youngest son changed my life. Since he went away to college, and joined FOCUS he showed me, without being one, what a true Cursillista is all about. Late one night, I saw him on his knees and convicted me that I should spend more time on my knees, another time I saw him reading the bible, and was convicted that what I was seeing should have been me showing him, and when he spoke to me about FOCUS I knew the work they do to make disciples is no different than our mission as Cursillistas, to go and spread the Good News to those who haven’t heard it or have forgotten it. Now I am still working on my piety, my study and my action, using Matthew Kelly’s phrase, “To be the best version of myself.” And in so doing maybe, just maybe I can be the servant that is needed.

 In December, a man named Jack called me to see how I was doing. He didn’t use text or email, he called me to see how I was doing and to wish me and my family a Merry Christmas. That simple phone call came at the best time and meant so much to me. This was another time God took to reminded me that personal encounters mean the most. Making a friend, being a friend and bringing the friend to Christ. That is the great commission that each of us are called to do. To share the love of Christ as we live outside our comfort zone.


On Friday, June 5, 2015, Father Ed Blanchett and the Trenton Cursillo community installed a new Lay Director, Rick Klarmann, a new Assistant Lay Director, Mary Weis and new Cursillo Section Head, Kathy Tucker. They also gathered to thank outgoing Lay Director, Ronnie Martella, for her service and dedication. Thank you so much to Father Ed for an inspiring homily and a beautiful installation mass, to the musicians and to Father Dave Swantek, and the community of St. Martha's, Point Pleasant, especially Dick and Jean Andrejack for their hospitality.

The newly installed Lay Director, Rick Klarmann, with new Assistant Lay Director, Mary Weis and new Cursillo Section Head, Kathy Tucker.

The newly installed Lay Director, Rick Klarmann with outgoing Lay Director, Ronnie Martella as Ronnie gives Rick the Lay Director's Cross
Secretariat presents a beautiful gift to Ronnie - a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Left to right - George Weis, Pat and Bob Burke, Kathy Tucker, Pat Ivanko, Mary Weis, Rick Klarmann, Ronnie Martella and Father Ed Blanchett

Rick and Mary cut a cake that read "God Bless You, Rick and Mary." 
The cake had a "rainbow" of different colored flowers. 


Mary Pellecchia writes: "I wanted to share with you that there is an article about Cursillo in the May/June 2015 issue of the Maryknoll missionaries's magazine. It's a really nice article & it's titled Cursillo: The Little Course In Christian Love & it's written by Gabriella Romeri. You may access it at
http://www.maryknollmagazine.org/index.php/magazines/612-cursillo-the-little-course-in-christian-loveGod is truly alive and at work & one of His instruments is Cursillo. God bless all of you. DeColores." 


Last weekend Region 2 was once again a joyous celebration of our diversity and our unity in our love of God and our journey with each other.  It was a weekend of prayer, song, laughter, dance, fellowship, fun and food.  The staff at Pope John Paul II retreat house in Vineland is always so welcoming, gracious, generous and attentive. 

Father Rene Canales gave a talk on Saturday morning “Listen to my Voice”.  In speaking about the Good Shepherd and we as the “sheep”, Father was full of the Holy Spirit, joyful, engaging, funny, insightful and challenging.   Father Canales stressed the importance of responding only to the voice of the Good Shepherd and not to be distracted or led away by any of the other voices.  He reminded us that we have to live in the kingdom, not just visit there.

The sharing/reports from other diocese in Region 2 always give insights, ideas and a sense that we all have triumphs and challenges and we can rejoice with each other when things go well and lift each other up when things are a struggle.  At this regional encounter the committees that were formed for the upcoming National Encounter in July met and discussed the plans for the weekend. 

Region 2 and National Encounters are always faith filled, joyous events that give us a chance to meet people from around the region and country,  cursillistas with whom we will share and learn, pray and sing.   Because it doesn't matter if two cursillistas live in the same diocese or  are separated by the entire country (or the entire country and an ocean as with the couple we met from Hawaii!), we share of love of and faith in God and our 4th day.


The National Encounter will be July 23-26 at Villanova University, outside Philadelphia.  There is still time to register, the cost if you are staying overnight is $325 if you register before June 15, and then the cost is $400. If you choose to commute, there is a reduced commuter rate of $250 which includes meals, workshops and other events. 

Anyone registering for National Encounter will be reimbursed $100 by Trenton Cursillo, making the cost $225 before June 15 and $300 after.   Volunteers for the various committees are always welcome and needed.  Committees include; hospitality, decor, transportation, ultreya, fiesta, liturgy, book store.  If you’d like to join one of these groups or learn more about any of them please contact Ronnie at the Trenton Cursillo e-mail - trentoncursillo@gmail.com.

Here are some more details about this encounter: 

Keynote Address:  Friendship with Christ:
Key to Evangelization by Dr. Ralph Martin

Workshops include:
  • Charity in the 21st Century by Deacon Gary Terrana
  • Attitudes and Reactions by Maribel Gomez
  • Prayer and Discernment by Rev. John Meyers
  • Means to Energize Your Fourth Day by Walter Benavidez
The weekend will include daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, morning/evening prayer, ultreya, fiesta and more.

Trenton Cursillo currently have ten people attending - hope you will join us!!!


Just in case you missed the EWTN airing of Pope Francis' meeting with Cursillistas today in Rome, here is a link to a story, photo and radio announcement of his key points:  http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/1140905


The second of two episodes, "Bringing our Friends to Christ", is scheduled to be broadcast on EWTN's The Church Universal program on the following dates:

    •  May 12, 2015 - 5:00 a.m. (EDT)
    •  May 15, 2015 - 10:00 p.m. (EDT)

If your TV set does not receive EWTN, you can watch it live at these times from your computer.

The DVD of 2 episodes will be available at Cursillo bookstore for $10/copy shortly after the airing of 2nd episode. Will keep you posted.


Since Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday I've had two lines from scripture in my mind.  On Palm Sunday the homily focused on the short but powerful piece of a verse… “The Master has need of it” Mark 11:3.  Father asked us to put ourselves in the place of the apostles- how could we just walk up to someone and start to take their donkey?  How can I do that, what if they said something ??  Tell them the Master has need of it, that is all we need to know, the master has need of us, our gifts and our willingness to serve Him and each other.

On Holy Thursday came the beautiful call to follow in His way, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13: 14-15.  What a beautiful and powerful image, Jesus bending down to wash dusty, dirty feet. 

I asked a while back for you to send a list of all the ministries in which you serve.  The response was incredible and I am humbled by your gifts and the ways in which you are God’s loving, caring presence in so many ministries, to so many others in your environments. 

I asked for that list to send it as part of the report to Bishop O’Connell about the Cursillo Movement in the diocese.  I wrote about how we in Cursillo live our 4th day and believe that our environment is the moveable square meter that surrounds us.  I told him we were praying for him, for his continued recovery and for him as he leads the diocese.
I sent that report and received a response from Bishop O’Connell who wrote “Thank you for your report and for your leadership and service.”

The movement and the diocese are blessed with so many faith filled, generous, loving people and I am blessed that the Lord has allowed my life to be touched by so many of you.  You inspire me, you lift me up and help me to be better, you are tireless in your witness to a Christian life well lived. 


" I pray that each and everyone is filled with the love that our Lord has shown and continues to show us. Have a blessed Easter"


From Loyola Press, here is a short two-minute video on "Deepening Friendships" with God and Others. The video can be found at this link. The speaker is Vinita Hampton Wright.

Other Lenten Videos from Loyola Press can be found at the right of the page.

Please don't forget that Loyola Press also offers a daily 3-Minute Retreat that is found at this link


Every Lent is a chance for us to do a little “life laundry,” as Paul Brian Campbell, SJ, explains in this video. This video is from LIVING LENT DAILY by Loyola Press - a series of short videos to inspire your journey through lent. Find it at this web site.



GENNESARET, a retreat designed to provide a spiritual and temporal oasis for men and women suffering with a serious illness, will be held the weekend of May 1,2,3 2015 at the Archdiocesan Retreat Center, located in Kearny N.J.  The retreat will begin Friday at 1:30 P.M. and end with a closing Prayer Service Sunday at 1:30 P.M. There is no cost to you for the retreat.

HILARE REINOLD @ 732-566-7237
PEGGY WALSH @ 908-654-5575
MAIRE MERRITT @ 732-670-5980
LINDA CAPOBIANCO @ 732-608-7277

For Your Piety and Study During Lent

Here are three resources to deepen your Lenten experience:

Mary Ann Dowd and others recommend Father Robert Baron's daily Lenten meditations at this link. (The sign-up link is towards the bottom of the page.)

The Jesuits offer “Igniting our Values,” a Lent 2015 digital prayer experience beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. Each evening, material for the following day’s prayer will be posted at this web site.

Don and Kathy Geiger recommend "Best Lent Ever" as a source of renewal at this web site.

From Loyola Press, a series of short videos to inspire your journey through lent. Find it at this web site.

A Note from Ronnie Martella, Lay Director

Like many of you, we read the "Word Among Us" reflections.  Often they give exactly what is needed, sometimes a particular day really hits on something or helps in our discernment.  

The readings at the end of January focused on the work of evangelization.  They included the call,  "Jesus went up to the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted, and they came to him. Mk 3:13"; "Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.Mk 1:17 "; the method, "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.2 Tim 1:7 ";  "The sower sows the word."Mk 4:14;  "Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear."Mk 4:23; "The seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.Mk 4:27 "; and the best reality of the best news...God loves us. "The one who had made the promise was trustworthy.Heb 11:11"  

The reflections on two days really made me think..."did a Cursillista write this?"  

This is from the reflection on the 'Fishers of men' verse. "So here are some suggestions that will help make you into a vessel of grace: First, ask God to give you a desire to share his good news.  Second, find the courage to ask people, even strangers, "Can I pray with you about anything?"  You'd be surprised at how many people are open to a quiet, nonthreatening invitation.  Third, invite people to join you at Mass.  Offer to come and get them if they can't make it on their own.  Take them out to breakfast afterward. Become a friend, and your love for Christ will rub off on them."  

And from the reflection on the 'Sower and the Seed'. "Think for a moment how many other seeds the world, the flesh and the devil are sowing all around us.  There's nothing stingy in their tactics.  How much more, then, should we counter all these poisonous seeds with the seeds of the gospel!  The need is great, so don't be intimidated! And by all means, don't feel defeated or outnumbered!  God has promised to be with you always as you spread your word.

So how are you going to sow today? What opportunities will  you seize to spread the seeds of the gospel? They're all around, after all.  Keep your eyes open, as you ask the Lord to help you see ways you can creatively witness to his love.  Who knows?  He may even give you brothers and sisters in Christ who are just as zealous as you to proclaim the word, in season and out." 

FOR YOUR STUDY by Deacon Tony Martucci, Deacon Spiritual Advisor

Are you a carrot, an egg or a tea bag? Think about that for a moment. We’ll come back to it later.

We read in Mark's Gospel that in the synagogue in Capernaum “all who looked on were amazed.” How many times in the Gospels do we hear that the people who listened to Christ’s teachings and or witnessed his miracles were “amazed?” Just what does that mean? Have you ever watched a magician and wondered “How did he do that”?  Did you stand there with your mouth open in total shock? Being amazed by something is like looking at beautiful fireworks. We say, “Ooh” and “Ahh” when we see it; but when it’s over we walk away just the same as we were before. These people in today’s Gospel were very much like that. They loved to hear the words of Jesus, to see His miracles, but they didn’t change the way they lived or the way they thought.

Contrast that with the Blessed Mother. The Gospel tells us in numerous places that “Mary pondered these things in her heart.”  She listened to the message of Her Son and took the time to think about it and to apply it to her own life. She was changed by what she saw and heard. Mary was the first Christian and the example for each of us of what we should be.

When we come to Church on Sunday, are we changed by the message of the Gospel, by the homily, or by the Eucharist that we receive? Do people see anything different in us?  Do we leave here and ponder what we have witnessed, or are we just amazed, and unchanged?

Many of us, perhaps most of us, look at the world around us, the corruption in government and in business, the failing economy, the poverty and ask “Why?” We need to know that God has put us here to make a difference. He wants us to hear His word, make it a part of our lives, and to transform us so we can transform the world. The problem is that many of us are not changed by participating in the Mass.

I want you to imagine three pots of water on the stove. Into the pots we put a carrot, an egg and a tea bag. We bring the water to a boil for several minutes. Then we remove the carrot, egg and tea bag. The carrot, which was once firm and crisp, is now soft and limp. The egg, which had been liquid inside, is now hard. The teabag, although wet, is relatively unchanged; but the water it was in is changed. This illustrates an important lesson for us. The boiling water is the obstacles and trials of life. We can be like the carrot, the egg or the tea bag. We can lose our faith and become soft like the carrot; we can be hardened by the events of our life and become hardened like the egg; or we can learn from our troubles and change the environment around us like the teabag.

The Gospel gives us the opportunity to see what God’s plan is for us and how to face our surroundings. Our world is a very different place than it was when we were younger.  It has become very modernistic and materialistic. It is anti-Christian. Perhaps that is because the Christians of the world have been changed by the environment. Think of those Christians and Muslims who are fundamentalists. They are almost fanatical about their faith, while we are almost indifferent. Something has to change in us if the world is to change. Christ has said, “Let your light shine before men, so that seeing your good works they may give glory to God the Father.”

Most of us are very excited about today’s Super Bowl. The players who are there have worked hard to get there. They practiced long hard hours and trained their bodies. Some of them are even playing with sore muscles and bones. But they want to win that trophy and get their Super Bowl rings. These are good things, but the life that Jesus is offering us is worth much more than a Super Bowl Ring.  Don’t you think we should work just as heard to be the best person we could be, like Christ was and is?

In another verse of scripture, Christ says, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, will He find any faith on earth?” I once marveled at this and wondered” How can that be?” Today I see that it is very possible. You and I must make a choice as to where we are going and where the world is going. We can no longer be lukewarm about our faith or we will be changed by the world around us. We must  be changed by Christ’s words and be the light and salt that brings change to the world.

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.”

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.”


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!


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