By Tanya Connor
WORCESTER – Bishop McManus praised the Cursillo movement as an evangelization tool, and encouraged members to evangelize, as he spoke at their Day of Renewal Oct. 3 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Center.
Bishop Rueger spoke about how he enjoyed giving the sacraments talk and celebrating Mass on Cursillo weekends, said Denise Thomas, Cursillo lay director and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Charlton.
She said about 230 Cursillistas (people who have made a Cursillo weekend) and others attended.
“This is our third Day of Renewal,” she said, adding that the last ones were several years ago. “This was by far the most successful,” in content, enthusiasm and other aspects. The Cursillo secretariat planned it, she said, and especially highlighted the work of secretariat member David Tittle, also from St. Joseph’s.
The day included music, the sale of spiritual artwork by Cursillista Kathy Jordan, and talks by Bryan Mercier, an international speaker and retreat leader, and Father Robert A. Grattaroti, Cursillo spiritual director and St. Joseph’s pastor.
Father Grattaroti also showed videos, including one of Pope Francis telling Cursillistas not to tire of preaching the Gospel in words and actions.
“I wanted to come to you to let you know how important you are to the Church and Diocese,” Bishop McManus told Cursillistas, as he made time for them between other events on his schedule Oct. 3. He said he has known people who made a Cursillo weekend and it changed their lives.
“Cursillo is a marvelous instrument of evangelization,” to bring one’s personal encounter with Christ into one’s home, he said. Speaking about the breakdown of marriage and family, he encouraged listeners to take their experience and translate it into an instrument of the new evangelization.
He told about the Mass he celebrated that morning at St. Paul Cathedral for the 25th anniversary of the twinning between the Dioceses of Worcester and Les Cayes, Haiti. He said he was going to for Haiti to celebrate the twinning there.
“The poverty that I experienced was absolutely numbing,” he said of his previous visits there. But the people have vibrant faith.
He also talked about the faith of Vietnamese Catholics in Worcester, and mentioned Africans and Latinos.
“God has blessed our diocese with new immigrants who have strong faith,” he said.
Bishop McManus also talked about his experiences during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.
“It was like the entire nation – both Catholics and non-Catholics – were on retreat for a week,” he said. The pope is a pastor, he said, recounting how he dove into a crowd after celebrating Mass in a parish in Italy. That’s what each priest does each Sunday, he said.
The pope’s support of the bishops, and encouragement for them to support their priests and people, inspired him as a bishop, he said, and offered his words of support to the Cursillo community.
Mr. Mercier gave some responses to criticisms people make about the Catholic Church and talked about the good it has done for the world.
He spoke of today’s “crisis” not being Islam, Hollywood or Washington but a “crisis of saints.” He told of the power of holiness manifested by St. Therese, and said she died more than 100 years ago but is still changing lives.
“We need to become saints now,” he said. “And, when we do, we will continue to change the world.”
Father Grattaroti talked about not excluding anyone “from our embrace – even the murderers, even ISIS.”
David and Denise Richards, of Holy Family of Nazareth Parish in Leominster, told The Catholic Free Press about a video Father Grattaroti showed, saying the crisis in Christianity is that Christians are not loving rightly. Christians went from being loving to being concerned about believing correctly, they said. If they point fingers about who is right or wrong “we’ve lost our witness to the world,” Mrs. Richards said.
“It’s the rooster that reminded Peter, and reminds us – reminded Peter of his fear … of the fact that he was not perfect,” Father Grattaroti said, in reference to the cock crowing after Peter denied Jesus.
Cursillistas use a rooster, mentioned in the Cursillo song “De Colores,” as a symbol. Chuck Hamilton, a Cursillista from Sacred Heart-St. Catherine of Sweden Parish in Worcester, had donned a chicken costume and entertained the audience.