Cursillo Mass participants from around the Trenton Diocese, also called “cursillistas,” recite the prayers of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the June 7 Mass. Vic Mistretta photos

Cursillo Mass participants from around the Trenton Diocese, also called “cursillistas,” recite the prayers of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the June 7 Mass. Vic Mistretta photos

By Lois Rogers | Correspondent

“De Colores!” This joyful greeting of the Cursillo movement resounded through the vaulted nave of St. Robert Co-Cathedral, Freehold, June 7. There, hundreds of members of the English and Spanish Cursillo movements shared their first diocesan bilingual Mass and fellowship.

The phrase, which translates from the Spanish as “in colors,” refers to the realization of living in God’s grace. It would be heard throughout the night as cursillistas from around the Diocese and beyond shared the Eucharist, were moved by the Word of God through the Scriptures, preaching, song and testimony from one of their own.

Photo Gallery: Diocesan Cursillo Mass

Cursillo, which is Spanish for “short course,” began more than 45 years ago in Spain as a three-day weekend of intense spiritual reflection. The worldwide evangelization that is endorsed by the Holy Father and bishops throughout the world was adopted by the Diocese of Trenton in the early 1970s as a Spanish-language outreach. The following year it was introduced in English.

The two-hour plus gathering was definitely a milestone and even more, said Angel Corredor, lay leader of the Spanish Cursillo. “Tonight, God gave us a gift of union, of love, that we need so much at this time,” Corredor, a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Keyport, said to all those in attendance.

“Brothers and sisters of God, being together, praying together, working on this gift of unity, speaking with each other,” is what’s important. “Whether we agree or disagree, we are together,”  he said.

Corredor urged the Cursillo members to continue holding joint liturgies. “This is for God,” he said. “People came from very far away tonight to do this for our Church. The Church needs us and we’ve got to keep going, always together,” he stressed.

In The Spirit

The Mass was concelebrated by Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni, rector of the Co-Cathedral,  and Father Arian Wharff, parochial vicar of the Co-Cathedral. Father Neiser Cardenas, parochial vicar in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton and spiritual director for the diocesan Spanish Cursillo, served as homilist.

Father Cardenas drew from John 21: 15-19 in which the Resurrected Lord reaches out to Peter, who had denied him three times before the Crucifixion, urging the Apostle three times to accept forgiveness and tend his lambs and feed his sheep.

Jesus gave Peter the opportunity for hope and healing, Father Cardenas said. Drawing strength from Jesus and those united with him in community offers “an exciting opportunity for hope and healing,” he said. “There is hope to move forward during the (new) century and there is healing and forgiveness “despite the world of trouble we live in.”

Veronica Martella, a previous lay director of the diocesan Cursillo, shared her own recent world of trouble during her witness. A member of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, she spoke of how the “constant support and witness of Cursillo showed me how to journey through the struggles of multiple family deaths in a short time.

“I was struggling and then I realized that God had given me so many people to comfort and help,” she said. Reflecting on Cursillo’s tripod principles of study, piety and action, “I realized that God made me strong and that I could do this.”

Looking To The Future

Mary Weis, who serves as the current lay director of the Cursillo Movement in the Diocese, said she was overjoyed about the Mass and the more than 200 attendees, including members of the Diocese’s Filipino Cursillo community.

In the days following the Mass, Weis, a member of St. William the Abbot Parish, Howell, said she had received numerous phone calls from people expressing their enthusiasm about the experience “Cursillo is all about unity and what it does to enforce the love of God,” she said.

Cursillo members in the same geographic area – called an Ultreya – meet regularly for support and encouragement. She noted that the Diocese’s newest Ultreya was scheduled to convene for the first time in the Co-Cathedral on June 13, something she said added even more enthusiasm to the bilingual gathering.

Msgr. Sirianni credited Father Wharff, who felt called to Cursillo in his home parish in Colombia as a youth, with the inspiration that led to the bilingual Mass and the new Ultreya.

Father Wharff shared how many members of his family “were in the movement and I saw how they loved it and the parish loved it.” Throughout his time in the seminary, Father Wharff acknowledged, he “always kept the dream of working with the movement.”

The bilingual Mass “is a fulfillment of that dream. I believe Cursillo has something to offer Catholic laity and the opening of the Ultreya in St. Robert Bellarmine is a wonderful opportunity,” Father Wharff said.