At Marian Shrine, Cardinal Thanks God for the ‘Gift’ of Cursillo


At scenic Marian Shrine in Stony Point, Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass during the 23rd annual archdiocesan Cursillo conference known as Ultreya de Campo, a daylong gathering of nearly 4,000 men and women and children.

“We give thanks to God for the gift of the Cursillo within His Church,” said Cardinal Dolan in his homily at the Aug. 18 conference near a large picnic area of the shrine’s Don Bosco Retreat Center. He thanked priests and Cursillo leaders who helped to organize the outdoor Mass.

The liturgy was followed by a festive picnic with many families, many parish families and one Church family, including teens and other youngsters who were playing soccer and volleyball, and tossing Frisbees in a nearby field.

At the picnic, participants shared their thoughts about the day’s Cursillo messages and themes, with similar conversations occurring during group gatherings of men and women. Later, more than a dozen women prayed at the base of the large Rosary Madonna statue on the property, while other Cursillo attendees took pictures of the 48-foot, bronze statue in the hot afternoon sun.

“We heard Jesus in the Gospel (of Luke) tell us he has come to light a fire,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We know what happened on Pentecost Sunday, when God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Spirit as fire. We know that fire can destroy, and we know that fire can create…We look at the terrible forest fires, or of a family home; or we look at a fire to burn out a cancerous tumor.”

“We think of fire in a kiln that turns clay into beautiful pottery. We think of fire that can barbecue and cook a steak,” the cardinal said. “So Jesus wants to use fire to destroy and to build up. Jesus wants to burn away and destroy our sins. Jesus wants to burn away and destroy the evil and the darkness in the world. And Jesus also wants his fire to burn in our heart with faith, hope and charity.”

The cardinal said the goal of the faithful is to see that the life of Jesus and our love and faith in Him burns in our heart and soul.

Cardinal Dolan concluded, “Can I thank you, (Cursillo members), because you give a beautiful example of hearts burning with love for Jesus and His Church? In a world where sometimes the fire of faith and love is out and extinguished, you give an example of a burning love and a burning faith in Jesus and His Church. I thank you for that, and I love you for it.”

The Cursillo gathering, including the Mass, was conducted in Spanish. The cardinal delivered much of his homily in English, with Father John Higgins serving as interpreter. Father Higgins, a concelebrant, is pastor of Holy Cross parish in the Bronx, where the archdiocesan Cursillo is based. He is the spiritual director of the archdiocesan Cursillo.

At the start of the Mass, the cardinal thanked the faithful for their patience with his Spanish, a light-hearted comment met with laughter and approval for the archdiocesan shepherd’s efforts.

A common word among speakers was “ultreya,” a Spanish word meaning “onward,’ or to persevere. Also popular was the phrase “de colores,” which means “in colors,” a reminder of joyful times when God’s unparalleled and unconditional love is especially vivid.

The Cursillo in Christianity was founded in 1944 in Spain. It remains a mostly Spanish-speaking apostolic movement of the Church that attempts to give life to the essential Christian truths in the “singularity, originality and creativity of the person.” The Cursillo offers spiritual renewal or rebirth, through a three-day Cursillo course to begin membership.

Archdiocesan Cursillo leaders Manuel De La Cruz and Confesor Garcia coordinated the Aug. 18 gathering, and they joined other archdiocesan Cursillo leaders who spoke, including Yolanda Faña and Manuel Vidal. All speakers offered words of gratitude and encouragement to fellow leaders, and to all members and guests in attendance. The main speaker was Vicente Rodriguez, director of the Cursillo school in the archdiocese.

“Our Mother Church, the Catholic Church, worries about her sons and daughters,” said Rodriguez in his remarks. “The Holy Spirit, which guides her, sometimes makes movements rise within the Church to help us all. And that is how the Cursillo in Christianity arose. Today we are part of this movement that gives us tools; and we all know what those tools are—groups of friendship and the ultreya (moving onward, persevering).”

Despite disagreements and conflicts within the Cursillo movement, society and every aspect of life, Rodriguez urged the faithful to persevere “as a humble representative of Christ,” and set such an example for their friends in all they encounter.