What Is Via de Cristo
The Cursillo Movement began when a group of men dedicated themselves to bringing the men of their city to know Christ. It grew as they talked together, prayed together and worked together. It is the story of how God taught a group of men how to work for him in an effective way that bears fruit.
The first three days were held in the monastery of San Honorato on the Island of Majorca, Spain, on January 7, 1947.
The first stirring of what was later to become the Cursillo Movement began during the years of World War II. The Spanish Civil War had ended in 1939 and the years following were time of ferment within the Spanish Church. The idea was born to have a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. James of Compostela, the great Spanish pilgrimage center of the Middle Ages. The pilgrimage would be a time for men and women of Spain to dedicate themselves in a renewed way to the work of the apostolate.
The pilgrimage provided a brotherhood that sparked further efforts for renewal in different Catholic action groups. Bishop Juan Hervas had been involved in Catholic action and through this action would give rise to the first three days.
The pilgrimage to St. James in 1948 was directed by Father Sebastian Gaya and Eduardo Bonnin. Father Juan Capo joined the group that would "found" the Cursillo Movement.
Originally they were called Cursillo of Conquest. Later, Bishop Hervas gave them the title of Cursillo de Cristiandad, or Cursillo in Christian Living.
The first weekend in the United States was held in Texas, in 1957. The key figures in the beginning were a priest and two air-man from Spain. Until 1961, all the weekends were held in Spanish and were composed of Catholic groups. In 1961, the first English speaking weekend was held in San Angelo, Texas. Cursillo came to Miami from Cursillistas who were fleeing Cuba. It remained a Catholic movement until 1970.
The first Lutheran Cursillo were held in 1972 in Miami and Iowa. In February, 1974 Pastor Ron Dingle of Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, accompanied by Bob Utz and Jerry Kleiner, attended a Lutheran Cursillo in Miami sponsored by what was then known as the Sunshine Cursillo Center of Miami. When these three men returned from their Cursillo, they hoped that many of their friends might have the opportunity to experience what they had, but all agreed that going the distance to Miami presented some problems. And so the idea was born to introduce Cursillo to Boca Raton. The first Gold Coast Cursillo was held in February, 1976. Since that time thousands have become cursillistas. There are also Walk to Emmaus, Episcopal, and Catholic Centers in Miami, Palm Beach, and other Florida cities.
The term Cursillo applies to single denomination movements. Since the Gold Coast movement is fully ecumenical we use the name Via de Cristo – hence Gold Coast Via de Cristo. The only difference between a Cursillo De Cristiandad and a Via de Cristo Cursillo is the name – the concept is the same.
The song, De Colores, has become the Via de Cristo song, largely because of its joyous nature. It was written by men who were returning from their Cursillo in Spain. Their bus had broken down in the country and while they were waiting for the bus to be repaired, they composed verses to an old Spanish folk tune describing the countryside as they saw it after their Cursillo de Cristiandad. You can really see God’s hand at work in this song when you think of all the countries in the world in which on the phrase "All in Color" can be expressed and yet communicate so much!