Founder’s Endorsement

On December 30, 1998, the New York Cursillo posted on its website this introduction to an article by long-time Cursillista, Frank Squitteri, entitled “Recapturing the Vision of the Cursillo Founders.” Frank wrote a superb article. But he couldn’t have anticipated that in a little over one year, it would be read (with admiration!) by one of the Cursillo Movement’s founders, Msgr. Sebastian Gayá. Following the article you will find the email from Msgr. Gayá’s office in Madrid pronouncing the article “Magnifico.”


Recapturing the Vision
Of the Cursillo Founders

By Frank A. Squitteri

How can Cursillo experience self-renewal? By recapturing the vision of the Cursillo founders! What was their vision? Their vision embraces Cursillo’s charism and its three dynamic models.

Let’s talk about Cursillo’s charism. All movements such as the Charismatic Movement and Marriage Encounter have their own special charism, their special gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has given Cursillo its special charism—Spirit-empowerment through Christian community. That is why we say that Cursillo is an invitation to empowerment, Spirit-empowerment, through Christian community.

This was the vision of the Cursillo founders: a community deeply aware of its special charism, for it is the soul of our Movement. It explains why our Weekends are so powerful. It explains why we want to remain with the Movement long after the Weekend. And it explains why we want to be involved in Group Reunion and Ultreya—to encounter the Spirit through Christian community.

The other components of the Cursillo founders’ vision are three dynamic models. Models are systems of interacting concepts that explain a dynamic reality. The Cursillo founders had the genius to build into Cursillo—the model of holiness (by implication), and most explicitly the model of evangelization and the model of the ideal Christian community. Along with Cursillo’s charism, these models are the engines that drive the Cursillo Movement.

First, let us focus on Cursillo’s model of evangelization. Note: I am calling the Cursillo tripod Cursillo’s model of evangelization. This model commits us to a total approach to evangelization. The evangelization model includes three interacting concepts—the familiar Holiness, Formation and Evangelization. They represent a dynamic model, a dynamic process.

Holiness is the fire that drives the process. My holiness impacts my formation, which is my on-going search for ways to deepen my holiness; thus, my formation impacts my holiness; and together they impact my evangelization. And my evangelization impacts my holiness and formation.

Here is the key point. When we evangelize others, we evangelize ourselves most of all. In the middle of our evangelization activities, we are discovering new spiritual insights, we are finding more courage to act and to lead, and we are becoming more aware of God’s presence and the Spirit’s empowerment. So our evangelization transforms us into contemplatives in action. That is the spirituality of Cursillo. That is the vision of the Cursillo founders— cursillistas living the total Evangelization Model and growing as contemplatives in action.

Today we are hearing a lot of simplistic talk about evangelization. It is like a company telling a salesman whom it has raised to the position of manager: “Now go and manage.” But he hasn’t been trained to manage. Likewise, this simplistic talk is telling us that we are evangelizers by virtue of our Baptism: “You are born evangelizers. Now go and evangelize.” Our founders were wise enough to know that evangelization is a more complex, more dynamic process that must include holiness and formation. Cursillo offers cursillistas, and the Church, a realistic model of evangelization.

Second, our founders gave us a model of the ideal Christian community. This model commits us to work at the on-going process of holiness, formation and evangelization in a growth-oriented community. The founders based this model on the formation of small Christian communities. Of course, I am referring to group reunion and ultreya, but they are only parts of a methodology until these small communities become a dynamic process. Our founders knew that it takes more than a gathering of Christians, even of cursillistas, to make a Christian community; it takes the dynamic process of people sharing their faith and growing together—empowered by the Spirit.

The ideal Christian community takes place when each one of us comes to our group reunion or ultreya with an openness to the empowerment of Christian community, with an awareness of Cursillo’s charism, with an expectancy that the Spirit will empower us to grow individually and as members of our community.

This model includes three interacting concepts—myself, community and Spirit. They represent a dynamic model, a dynamic process. I interact with my community and my community interacts with me, and together we interact with the Spirit, and the Spirit empowers me and my community. That is the model of the ideal Christian community which Cursillo offers cursillistas, and the Church. A Spirit-actualizing, growth-oriented community. That was the vision of the Cursillo founders.

Third, Cursillo offers us a model of holiness. This model commits us to all the dynamics of an interpersonal relationship between God and ourselves which flourishes into a deeper relationship with others. Our founders clearly defined the models of evangelization and the ideal Christian community, but not the holiness model. However, they gave us a living model of holiness, a laboratory of holiness, a lived experience of holiness which we experienced on our Weekends. So, we can deduce seven characteristics of holiness from our Weekend experiences and the virtues that underlie these characteristics to create the following model of holiness:

  1. The model asks us to be visionary. We spent the first full day of the Weekend hearing talks about the need for a vision. Most of us experienced a whole new vision of life—the Christian Vision that helped us move from an Ego-centered life to a God-centered life. The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of God-centeredness with all our relationships flowing from our relationship with God.
  2. The holiness model asks us to be communal. On the Weekend we experienced very intensely Cursillo’s charism of Spirit-empowerment through Christian community. The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of openness to the empowerment of Christian community.
  3. The holiness model asks us to be charismatic. While we heard little about the Spirit on the Weekend, we certainly experienced the power of a Higher Power. That power was the Spirit. Further, The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement states: “The most basic attitude of the evangelizer is an awareness that one is merely an instrument at the discretion of the Holy Spirit.” The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of dependency on the Spirit’s empowerment.
  4. The holiness model asks us to be compassionate. On the Weekend, we experienced God’s compassion and the community’s compassion: God and community were experienced as being fully present, in a caring and attentive way to us. The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of compassion—being spiritually present to others and being communion to others, being bodily present to others through our body language.
  5. The holiness model asks us to be action-oriented. On the Weekend we heard about Christ’s Mission and our role of evangelization. The virtue we must grow in is the courage to act and to lead.
  6. The holiness model asks us to be Palanca people. On the Weekend, we discovered a faith community who believes in the power of prayer and sacrifice to open others to the Spirit’s empowerment. The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of faith.
  7. Lastly, we are asked to follow a structured model of holiness. On the Weekend we discovered Cursillo’s three models—evangelization, Christian community and holiness— systems approaches to the spiritual life. The virtue we must grow in is the virtue of discipline to live according to these three models.

It was the Cursillo founders who built into the Weekend these characteristics and virtues. Men of their spiritual insight knew that the candidates could not accomplish these virtues in one weekend. Their vision must have been to launch the candidates into a dynamic process of striving for holiness according to this model of holiness they experienced on  their Weekend.

Cursillo’s model of holiness can be represented by a dynamic model which incorporates the seven virtues of holiness as well as the Evangelization and Christian Community models. The model includes three interacting concepts—Vision, Values and Practice. The Vision is the Christian Vision; the Values are the seven virtues of holiness; and Practice is living the Holiness, Evangelization and the Ideal Christian Community models.

It shouldn’t be surprising that this dynamic model of holiness is, in effect, our model for Christian leadership. The seven characteristics and virtues of holiness described above are the qualities that make a Christian leader, for it is through our holiness that we will help complete Christ’s mission to convert the world from unholiness to holiness. That was the mission and the vision of the Cursillo founders.

One last look at Cursillo’s three dynamic models. All three interrelate with one another and reinforce one another, because Christ’s Spirit is present in all three. In fact, we can look upon all three models as being three approaches to holiness. The Holiness Model is our personal approach to holiness, striving to grow in its seven virtues. The Christian Community Model is our communal approach to holiness, challenging us to grow in our growth community. The Evangelization Model is our action-oriented approach to holiness, transforming us into contemplatives in action.

Let us recapture the vision of the Cursillo founders. The Cursillo community highly aware of its charism and of its three dynamic models. Only then will we appreciate Cursillo’s power and glory. Only then will we experience a new spirit in Cursillo and Spirit-empowerment. Only then will we be able to complete Christ’s mission to convert the world from unholiness to holiness.

The following is the e-mail that Frank received from José Daniel Soriano, Acting Secretary to Msgr. Gaya, on April 1, 2000:

From: Jose Daniel Soriano
Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2000 10:38 AM
Subject: Trying to meet you

Dear brother in Christ: My name is José Daniel Soriano.

I have to apologize in the first place for my very poor (forgotten) knowledge of your language; specially when addressing to a writer of your level.

And in a second place for the bold action of writing this letter, being an unknown stranger and taking your, probably, precious time.

Let me introduce myself. I am a retired Captain of 747 in “Iberia Air Lines of Spain”, formerly a professional officer in the Spanish Air Force.

I am a “Cursillista” since 1955. As a matter of fact I was living in Palma de Mallorca, beeing a member of “Jóvenes de Acción Católica” when our Movement of Cursillos started, but I was not allowed to form part of the group in the first Cursillo, since I was too young (17). When I was promoted to first lieutenant, after four years in the AirAcademy, I was assigned to Palma in the fighter squadron in “Son San Juan Spanish Air Force Base”. I was lucky enough to attend to the last Cursillo made in Palma in 1955 in very difficult conditions; you probably know what happened in the Diocese of Palma when Mnr. Hervás was sent to Ciudad Realand the new Bishop Enciso came to Palma

By the end of 1956, some of the pilots from our squadron were assigned to a complete course (two years) of “Jet training” in the US.  Since I was the senior officer, I was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and I was the only one of us that went through the whole training alone; I mean without the company of any of my fellow officers from Palma.  So, they decided (in the Secretariado de Cursillos) that the opportunity of introducing Cursillos in US should be given to Bernardo Vadell and Agustín Palomino, the other two Cursillistas in the Squadron, both bachelors (I got married in December 1956) since they were assigned to the training together, six months later than me.

Agustín Palomino is nowadays in my same Ultreya in Madrid( San Miguel de los Santos), we both are “Dirigentes” in the “Escuela deSan  Pablo” and we go together once more from 6-9 of next April (less than a week) to our 428 Men Cursillo of the Archdiocese of Madrid!!.-

And now, to the main point of this letter:

A few days ago, I was trying to contact through the “Cursillos LinK” with our brethren of Cursillos around the world, asking for “Palanca” (we call it “Intendencia”) for our close Cursillo and, suddenly, I found in your page of Cursillos in New York an article written by you entitled: “Recapturing the Vision of the Cursillo Founders”. I must say that I was terrified by the title. How could possibly somebody from New York consider himself the interpreter of the “Vision” of the Founders without consulting them?

I was wrong.

When I read the article I felt that I should let know to the author my apologies. I considered it an excellent vision, keeping exactly the foundement of Cursillo with a special delicacy toward our Founders. But I could be mistaken; the only way I could be sure, was asking to the Founder himself.

I am, from a few years ago (since I retired from flying, in 1992), a sort of secretary of Father Sebastián Gayá. I don’t know if you are aware of who is Father Gayá. I met him in 1942 beeing a child in Palma de Mallorca. My father (a member of the “Consejo Diocesano de Acción Católica de Palma de Mallorca) introduced me to Father Sebastián after a Meditation he gave in the church of Santa Eulalia. I was 10 years old. After 58 years, the Lord has given me, (why me?) the opportunity of staying with him.

I can assure you that, of the three people considered the Founders of Cursillos, speaking in terms of seventh art, Mnr. Hervás was the Producer, Eduardo Bonnín the Director and Father Sebastián Gayá… wrote the script.

I showed him my translation into Spanish of your article… and the other two that I found in the New York Cursillos page. He made two comments after reading you:

1 – “Magnífico; yo utilicé el sistema deductivo y élusael inductivo”

2 – “Trata de averigüar quién es Frank A. Squitteri; qué cargos ocupa en el Secretariado de NuevaYorky si tiene otros artículos publicados”

I feel sorry Mr. Squitteri, but I don’t want to translate his comments from the original language. You will have to find by yourself the exact meaning.

Expecting your answer (and begging your pardon),
José Daniel Soriano

The translations of the two comments are as follows:

1. “Wonderful – I use the deductive method and he used the inductive method.”
2. “Try to find out who Frank Squitteri is and what responsibilities he has on the Secretariat of 
New York, and if has other published articles.”