Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Mar
  • 15

Cursillo hits high mark with largest group

Posted By March 15, 2012 | 1:09 pm | Lead Story #3
Cursillo Retreat sigWEB

By Tanya Connor

The largest Cursillo weekend in the diocese in at least 30 years had barely ended when new Cursillistas began forming faith-sharing groups and seeking spiritual reading, those involved said.
The retreat-like “short course in Christianity” was held March 1-4 at Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charlton. After years of undersized and cancelled weekends, interest was so high a waiting list was established. In the end, there were 42 candidates and 16 team members.
“That was fabulous,” Bishop Rueger said. “I thought the place was good. They kept me three hours with questions.” (Well, not quite that long.) Bishop Rueger, who is retired, made Cursillo in the 1960s in Spencer. He regularly helps out. This time so did several priests and a deacon.
“This is one of the evidences – Jesus is still with us and we can never lose hope,” even with current challenges to religious liberty, said Father Robert A. Grattaroti, spiritual director for the Cursillo movement in the diocese.
Father Grattaroti is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, which this time had 16 candidates, the most from any parish. St. Roch’s in Oxford followed with seven, and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Webster with six. A few other parishes had one or two.
Liz Cotrupi, the weekend’s director, said there were also the most young people she remembers on a Cursillo – six women in their 20s – and there were ministry leaders from various parishes. As St. Joseph’s Life Teen coordinator, she said the three core team members who had not yet fulfilled her requirement to attend Cursillo, did so that weekend.
St. Joseph’s associate pastor, Father Nicholas Desimone, was a candidate on the last men’s Cursillo, held in November at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River. (For years before that, Cursillos were held at Oakhurst Retreat & Conference Center in Whitinsville, which closed last summer. The next men’s weekend is July 26-29 at Assumption College. A Cursillo Renewal Day, open to anyone, is being planned for October.)
Father Desimone said women’s testimonies about Cursillo changing their lives spurred him to invite his mother, Angela Desimone of Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Worcester. She attended this month’s weekend.
Asked if he talked up Cursillo at St. Joseph’s, Father Desimone said, “Cursillo is just part of the life-blood of this parish.” It was mentioned in the parish bulletin and announced at Masses and he prayed for it at weekday Masses, he said.
“Father Bob and I both take turns celebrating the Ultreya Mass,” he said of the monthly evening for Cursillistas at St. Joseph’s.
He said there seems to be a persistent core group who encourage other Cursillistas to pray and sponsor people for Cursillo, and not just at St. Joseph’s. Cursillo also reaches out through Facebook and e-mails, he said.
Like Father Desimone, Father Adam Reid, Sacred Heart’s pastor since July 1, doesn’t take credit for his parishioners attending Cursillo.
“I have been supportive … but I credit the numbers more to the laity here who have had a very meaningful experience there and have shared with others their love for the Cursillo movement,” he said. “I am thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in the laity.” He also credited his predecessor, Father Michael J. Roy, who became pastor of St. Roch’s July 1.
“I certainly have seen that some individuals who are particularly enthusiastic about sharing their faith and are active in parish life have made a Cursillo,” though not all such parishioners have done so, said Father Reid, who hails from St. Joseph’s and made his Cursillo before entering seminary.
“I have great respect for Cursillo and I hope it will grow in this parish,” he said. “I am probably one of the few people who had a bad experience on Cursillo. It wasn’t at all what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed.” He said he was seeking clarification about his vocation, did not get it on Cursillo, and realized one cannot force God to give one a message when one is not ready to hear it.
“I just have seen the benefits in the lives of people who have gone to Cursillo – the awakening of faith,” said Father Roy. “How else do you renew a parish except awakening in people a relationship with Christ and, through Christ, with the whole Church? One of the good things about Cursillo is that it gives a sufficient amount of time for people to get involved in catching the vision. It gives people an experience of the Church.”
He said at Sacred Heart he supported the laity’s efforts to recruit Cursillo candidates.
“When I came to St. Roch’s, right from the beginning I started inviting people to think about it seriously,” he said.
Deacon Wesley S. Stevens “had been talking about it for years – no pressure,”  said Teri Rawson, administrative assistant at St. Roch’s. “I really had no interest.”
At Mass one weekend, a Cursillista gave a “light” talk about Cursillo that didn’t scare me, she said.
“I felt like Jesus was knocking at my door,” she said. “So that’s why I know the timing was just right” to make the March weekend.
She and other St. Roch’s Cursillistas gathered at the rectory Friday for lunch and sharing about the weekend, and hope to continue doing that, she said.
Mrs. Cotrupi said other new Cursillistas have also formed faith-sharing groups. They went looking for religious items too.
Denise Boucher-Garofoli, owner of Boucher’s Good Books in Worcester, which supplies formation materials for the weekends, said the first few days after this Cursillo six or seven new Cursillistas came to her store.
“They were still on fire,” and wanted items sold on the weekend, she said.
She said her father, Louis Boucher, now deceased, bought the store after making his Cursillo, to distribute spiritual reading.
A recent convert, Rachelle St. Laurent, who helps at Sacred Heart in Webster, wants others to experience the weekend.
“I was baptized last Easter,” she said. “I was Jewish.” She said she wanted to go on Cursillo while still in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults because her confirmation sponsor made Cursillo then and returned “so happy and full of the Holy Spirit.”
“I needed to know what this was all about,” Mrs. Laurent said. “My husband went in November. I had to wait, and wait, and wait.”
Was it worth it?
“It was the best thing I ever did in my life,” she responded. “I know now that I’m part of a group that will do anything for you.”
Now, she said, she plans to tell the new people in RCIA about Cursillo.