What Is Cursillo?

Want to grow deeper in your relationship with God?
Want to rediscover the sense of Christian Community?
Want to rediscover the tools needed to live a Christian life?

Consider "Cursillo"


"Cursillo" is a spiritual experience that will help our hearts and minds grow and remind us of the great love that Jesus has for each of us. In the Diocese of Trenton, Cursillo is offered annually. 

The purpose of the "Cursillo - a Cursillo in Christianity" is to help us grow in faith and to help us to live a fully Christian Life. 

The "Cursillo" starts with a three day weekend running from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon. A team of speakers offer talks on aspects of our Christian life. Through these talks, we are challenged to strengthen our relationship with God and with others. At the end of the "Cursillo," we are given the tools and resources to start the rest of our lives.

The "Cursillo" focuses on three basic concepts:
Piety - What are those things that will help our spiritual growth?
Study - What helps us to be more Christian?
Action - What can I do to bring change in others and/or the world for the better?

Tens of Thousands of Catholics, and the faithful from other denominations throughout the world have been through the "Cursillo." 

The "Cursillo" will help us to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and help us to build up the body of Christ, the Church in all those places we are in our lives - home, work, church and all the other "environments."


  • Early 1940s: The "Cursillo" and The Cursillo Movement begins in Majorca, Spain. It began when a group of people dedicated themselves to bringing themselves closer to Christ. The "Cursillo" developed as they prayed and worked together, sharing their thoughts about the state of the world and the effectiveness of their efforts to bring the light of Christ to it.
  • Late 1940s: The first Cursillo weekend is given. Today's "Cursillo"  is very similar to those early sessions. The Cursillo grew in the climate of spiritual renewal. 
  • 1957: The first "Cursillo" in the United States is held in Waco, Texas. 
  • 1960s: Cursillo spreads throughout the United States and the world. 
  • 1965: The Cursillo Movement is formally organized in the United States. The National Cursillo Office is established in Waco, Texas. It is recognized by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • 1972: Cursillo comes to Trenton Diocese through the efforts of Father Jay Bowden (who made his Cursillo in Brooklyn, New York, ) Bill and Mary Ellen Cortright (who made their Cursillo in Buffalo, New York) and several other people who approached Bishop George W. Ahr and received his blessing to begin an English-speaking Cursillo in the Diocese.
  • 1997: Cursillo in the Diocese of Trenton celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Over the 25 years, more than 3,000 people have taken the "Cursillo" in this Diocese.
  • 2017: Trenton Cursillo celebrates its 45th Anniversary celebrating this Christ-centered movement.



Each day of the Cursillo begins with Morning Prayers and ends with Night Prayers. Mass is celebrated daily (except Thursday). 

Each participant should be aware that, since prayer is such an intricate part of our spiritual life, there will be others on the weekend who will be continually praying and offering up sacrifices - for the success of the course.

Throughout the weekend, meals are provided. If an individual has a special need, such as a particular diet or physical needs, it can be accommodated. 


This is a time to get to know each other. An overview of the "Cursillo" will be presented.
Thursday night's activities are designed "to awaken the moral consciences of the participants, beginning with an analysis of their own lives and causing them to desire an encounter with God." 

This phase, done in silence, ends Friday morning. The phase includes three meditations: 
  • Know Yourself 
  • The Prodigal Son, and 
  • The Three Glances of Christ 


Theme of Friday: Understanding Myself. On Friday participants will examine what motivates them in different situations. 

During this day there will be five presentations:
Three presentations will be given by members of the laity. 
The other two presentations will be given by Spiritual Directors. 
The presentations provide the participants with information and witnessed experiences. Participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts through small group discussions. 


Theme of Saturday: Focus on ourselves and our relationship with God.

Talks on Saturday help us to get a better understanding of our present relationship with God and provide us with a desire to deepen our relationship with God.

The schedule for Saturday follows the same format as Friday. Again, there are three laity presentations and two Spiritual Director presentations. 

Small group discussions again play a very dynamic role in generating various insights concerning the presentations. 


Theme of Sunday: Understanding of ourselves, our relationship with God, and how we can help Him in fulfilling His Will. 

We learn what environments (surroundings) we belong to and how we can affect those environments.

The same format is used on Sunday, except there is only one Spiritual Director presentation. 

There are the usual three laity presentations 

Sunday night there is a closing service where participants come face to face with others who have completed the Cursillo. 

The Celebration of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, scriptural Rosary and the Way of the Cross are integral parts of the "Cursillo" offered by the Diocese of Trenton.

Like those important things in life, the lessons taught in the "Cursillo" must be applicable to our every day lives. The lessons and techniques taught in the course are reinforced in a number of post-weekend events including:

Small Group - This is the meeting of two to four participants of the "Cursillo" who gather to focus on the three main concepts of the course: Piety, Study and Action. Many life long friendships have been formed out of these small groups.

Ultreya - the gathering of several small groups from a similar geographic area. The Ultreya is an opportunity to reinforce and apply what you learn in the course.

School of Leaders - Think of this as the "Continuing Education" portion of the course. Learn more about the Cursillo Movement and how to deepen your relationship with Christ.


In the Diocese of Trenton, those who are in a position to receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, or could become so, are eligible for the "Cursillo". If you are interested, an individual who has taken the "Cursillo" will "sponsor" you for the course. 

A "Cursillo"-like experience is also offered by non-Roman Catholic denominations (Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, etc.). 

For further information please email trentoncursillo@gmail.com.