Christians face challenges at various stages of life, but members of the Trenton Diocese’s Cursillo movement have found that meeting those challenges is easier with support from others.
At a Mass for the installation of new lay officers for the movement, incoming director Robert Morris described his 22-year participation in the Cursillo movement as times of greater and lesser involvement, depending upon career and family responsibilities. “We always felt welcome; we are all one community where we help each other.”
Describing his dedication to his position, he summoned words from “The Leader’s Prayer” of Cursillo, “Give us a spirit of self-sacrifice.”
Morris was installed Sept. 15 in St. Martha Church, Point Pleasant. Father Edward Blanchett, diocesan Cursillo moderator and pastor of Visitation Parish, Brick, and Father Andres Serna, parochial vicar of St. Dorothea Parish, Eatontown, concelebrated.
Morris commented on the Scripture of the day, the first letter of St. Timothy, which he said reflected his feelings on his new position: “I am grateful to Him who has strengthened, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.”
Father Blanchett spoke of the juxtaposition of the celebratory joy of the Cursillo installation and that day’s feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. In his homily, he described a natural relationship between the challenges to be faced by Cursillo leadership and future joys, just as Mary’s sorrows were transcended by the joy of the Assumption.
“Our challenges strengthen us and guide us. ... We are called through these challenges to reach out to others. We need to remind ourselves that we follow the light of the world, Jesus,” he said.
Outgoing lay director Robert Lauricella faced special challenges during his two-year term: the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite, and in even in view of the challenges, he described his term as “an awesome, Christ-filled experience.”
“Keep persevering and pray, pray, pray. My main ambition is to bring people to Christ,” he said.
Cursillo members presented Lauricella with a meditation staff, depicting seven shrines, carved by member John Carlucci.
During the Mass, Richard Klarmann was installed as assistant lay director; Lisa Klarmann was installed as secretary and treasurer. Both affirmed their commitment to fulfill the responsibilities of their roles, with the support of Christ and the diocesan Cursillo community.
JoAnne Henderson, parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Whiting, said she attended her Cursillo weekend in 2012 and earned her colorful vest as a team member in 2013. She said the Cursillo program “elevates my Christianity and faith. We can’t do this alone. The Lord doesn’t mean for us to do this alone. We need Church. Before Cursillo, I was attending Mass weekly, but I wasn’t really leading a Christ-centered life. Now I am a daily communicant and look forward to receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord.”
Former lay director Ronnie Martella summoned the words of songwriter Harry Chapin, “All my Life’s a Circle,” to reflect upon the cycles of life and her present family challenges of aging siblings. She spoke of her prayer to “let go of how I think things should be,” reminding all present, especially those in new leadership roles, that “the Holy Spirit is there to guide and gift you. God called you. God knows you and asks you to rely on your gifts and on Him.”
The installation closed with the Spanish folk song and Cursillo anthem, “De Colores.” Its words evoke the intention of the Cursillo movement: “Let us live in grace since we can … let us bring to Christ a soul and a thousand more.”
Father Edward Blanchett, right, and Father Andres Serna, left, concelebrate the Mass for members of the Cursillo movement during which time, the new lay director, lay assistant director and secretary/treasurer were installed. Theresa Shubeck photos
At A Glance: The Cursillo Movement
The Cursillo movement’s purpose is primarily one of evangelization. Members seek to share the Good News of salvation with others in their family, parish, place of employment and community.
The Trenton Cursillo movement, part of a worldwide program, began in 1971 with a Spanish-speaking weekend; the first English Cursillo weekend was held over Pentecost weekend in 1972. At present, two sets of weekends (spring and fall) are offered each year, with separate weekends for men and women. Each consists of prayer, meditations and presentations led by lay and spiritual directors, and small-group discussions. Retreatants examine their relationship with God and how they might best fulfill His will.
An ongoing follow-up program is offered after the Cursillo weekend. The Ultreya — derived from the Latin word for onward — is a bi-monthly gathering in which participants talk about their lives of discipleship. Friendship groups get together on an even deeper level.