Cursillo members applaud toward the end of Mass as Bishop O'Connell is gifted with a token of appreciation, which was a jersey.  Rich Hundley
Cursillo members applaud toward the end of Mass as Bishop O'Connell is gifted with a token of appreciation, which was a jersey. Rich Hundley

Angel Corredor had a telling message for the English- and Spanish-speaking faithful gathered for the Diocese’s bilingual Cursillo Mass.

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop celebrates Mass with Cursillo communities

“Each and every ministry in the Church has a purpose, for we all have the same foundation – which is Jesus Christ,” said Corredor, a lay director of the Spanish Cursillo. “It’s a foundation that will never be broken.”

The Cursillo community who came together Oct. 26 in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, was all smiles for the Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. It was the second time the English and Spanish Cursillo movements shared a diocesan bilingual Mass.

“This [movement] is a great treasure and great pride of our Diocese. De Colores!” the Bishop said, using the Spanish words “in colors,” which refer to the realization of living in God’s grace.

‘One in Faith’

Concelebrated by priests of the Diocese, the Mass included music in English and Spanish, and words of inspiration from both Corredor and Father Arian Wharff, homilist. Mass was followed by a reception below the Cathedral, complete with lively Spanish music.

Corredor likened the current state of the Church to a building. “In every building that is built, a brick falls – and it’s up to us to pick up that brick and put it back where it belongs,” he said. “We are here in faith and watching; we are never going to let it fall.”

Father Wharff, parochial vicar of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, noted in his homily the beauty of being “among brothers and sisters who speak the same language, who are on the same page, who believe the same experience. … It’s amazing to me to see how we are together from different backgrounds, different families, different stories. This afternoon we are one – one in faith, one in hope [and] one in the Spirit.”

Father Wharff entreated those in attendance to seek that same Holy Spirit whom they originally encountered when joining the Cursillo Movement.

“To live according to the Spirit is to place our minds and hearts in God – to change who we are, our perspective of life, to understand our human context,” he explained. “Is the Spirit active in your life? Are you giving space and room for the Spirit to move and change your life, to change your mind and to change your heart?”

Father Wharff also emphasized the need to listen to each other in the Christian community. “Your brother and sister have something to say, have something to teach you,” he said, “because the Holy Spirit is acting as well [in them]. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to our brothers and sisters – but that is how God works. … Today is the day, right now is the moment that God wants to act through you, in the Cursillo Movement.”

Corredor explained that the Mass begins not only the year for the Cursillo Movement, but also marks the continuation of both English and Spanish Cursillo groups being together. On June 7, hundreds of Cursillo participants, known as “cursillistas,” came together from around the Diocese for a Mass in Freehold’s St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral.

“We’re becoming one to help each other,” Corredor said. “This Mass means that union – it changes because we become a bigger community now, as Cursillistas. We are more able to understand, to be together in the name of God.”

Bringing Others to Christ

The Cursillo Movement – which begins with a three-day weekend retreat – has roots in Spain from the 1940s, but became an organized movement in the United States during the 1960s, when English language was incorporated. A National Secretariat was formed in 1965, and is joined to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops through an official liaison. In 1980, the Cursillo Movement established a worldwide international office, and centers exist in dozens of countries. It is recognized by the Holy See as a member of the International Catholic Organizations of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome.

The phrase “de colores,” which means “in colors,” is often expressed as a greeting and affirmation in the Cursillo Movement, meaning “in God’s Grace.” A traditional folk song, “De Colores,” is used often among Cursillo celebrations – and was featured as the closing song for the Mass with Bishop O’Connell.

Kathy Tucker, a lay leader of Cursillo and member of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, said the movement is friendship-based.

“Our motto is ‘make a friend, be a friend, bring that friend to Christ,’” she said. “We coordinate Cursillo weekends throughout the year. You want to make that friend first, then you want to bring that friend to your Ultreya – a reunion of the groups together.”

Tucker explained that her Ultreya meets twice a month, while others will meet more or less often. “We share in the liturgy, and we sing and share our ‘study in action,’ which is our methodology.”

Having the English and Spanish groups gather with the Bishop, she said, “helps us bond together. We learn, we can be friends with each other … We’re trying to get it to grow.”

“Cursillo is a wonderful movement,” attested Theresa D’Andrea, member of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, and a cursillista since 2011. “I think it brings people together, by having the Bishop say Mass, and have fellowship afterward.”

D’Andrea attended with her brother, Joe Wochna – a member of St. Aloysius Parish, Jersey City, who attends weekend Masses in St. Mary Parish, Barnegat.

“Cursillo brings people together,” Wochna said. “Today, going to Mass with the Bishop and making a big prayer to God – that’s important.”