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The earliest Cursillo weekends were held in the late 1940's on the Spanish island of Mallorca. It was started as an effort to help prepare the young men of Catholic Action for a life in Christ, as well as to help cure the bitterness of the Spanish Civil War. The principle lay founder, Eduardo Bonnin, was active in the movement until he passed to his reward in 2008.


Cursillo spread to Latin America, where the first Cursillo for women was held in Colombia. Cursillo was brought to this country by Spanish Air Force personnel training in Texas. The first weekend in the US was held in Waco, Texas in 1957. Spanish speaking Cursillo weekends spread throughout the Southwest and into New York and Ohio. In 1961 the first English-speaking Cursillo weekend was held in San Antonio, Texas.

Since coming to the United States., Cursillo has found expression in several denominations and in non-denominational groups as well. Episcopal Cursillo and Methodist Walk to Emmaus groups helped Presbyterian Cursillo groups begin in Charleston, SC and in the Presbytery of the Peaks in Virginia. A Lutheran Cursillo group helped the North Carolina Pilgrimage community get started.


Pilgrimage is an ecumenical movement based on the Cursillo model in all ways with the exception of inviting guests of all denominations and hosting coed weekends.


One estimate is that nearly 2 million people have now gone through a Cursillo method weekend in the United States and 10 million or more worldwide.

As of 2012, there are 25 local Presbyterian Cursillo and Pilgrimage groups holding weekend spiritual renewal retreats in the United States. Additional groups are being formed throughout the country.

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