Diocese’s Cursillo communities gather for Ultreya, are thanked by Bishop Jenky

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, holds a gift basket that was presented to him by Cursillo en Espanol during a Mass for Cursillo communities from around the Diocese of Peoria on Dec. 1 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The gift was in thanksgiving for how Bishop Jenky welcomed a Spanish-speaking option of the spiritual renewal movement to the diocese 13 years ago and has supported it. A Santa Claus pillow could be seen clearly and the bishop quipped that "I'm starting to look like the jolly old fellow -- beard, belly and all." (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“De colores!”

With this traditional greeting of the Cursillo community, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, welcomed members of the spiritual renewal movement from throughout central Illinois who braved tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings Dec. 1 to be at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for the second Diocesan Ultreya.

Offering a thunderous “De colores!” in return, the Cursillistas and their guests signaled their joy at being together to praise God for the many gifts he has bestowed on them through Cursillo.

Those who attended the Mass for the second Diocesan Ultreya at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Dec. 1, reach across the center aisle to pray the Our Father. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“Cursillo” is a Spanish term meaning “short course” and Cursillo weekends are considered a “short course in Christianity.” The term “de colores” is also Spanish and means “of the colors.” It describes a life filled with the love and mercy of God and the desire to include all people in that.

The theme for the evening was the same one that has been explored at Ultreyas — monthly gatherings that include a reflection, Mass and time to socialize — throughout the year: “We will walk with each other and together we will spread the news that God is in our land.”

Deacon Rick and Cheryl Miller of Blessed Sacrament in Morton offered the opening reflection, talking about how making their Cursillo weekends had repaired their strained marriage and prepared them to walk with others on their journey of faith.

PRAYERS ANSWERED

“As my wife and I prepared for this talk, we realized that it has taken many years to grasp the concept of teaming up with someone to share the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness,” said Deacon Rick, spiritual director of Cursillo for the Diocese of Peoria.

“That leads me to a simple question: Has your faith journey recognized the power of joining with someone to share the presence of God in your life,” he asked.

Cheryl and Deacon Rick Miller smile as they share the ways Cursillo has been a blessing in their lives. They reflected on the evening’s theme, “We will walk with each other and together we will spread the news that God is in our land.” (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The couple shared how they struggled to maintain a strong marriage and family life with Deacon Rick attending medical school, working and eventually building a house, while Cheryl worked as a nurse and cared for their growing family. When Deacon Rick “ran out of excuses” to make a Cursillo weekend in October 1979, it changed their lives.

“For the first time I had a community and was walking with people who not only spread the word that God was in our land, but that he loves me unconditionally,” Deacon Rick said. “I was humbled by his forgiveness.”

When he returned home after that weekend, Cheryl said she knew her prayers had been answered.

“With some wonderful counseling from Father Tom Henseler, we got a miracle for our marriage and family,” she said.

Cheryl was the first to say “yes” to serving on a Cursillo team and then the board for Teens Encounter Christ. “Cursillo showed us the way,” she said.

Together they worked as lay directors of TEC for five years and eventually answered an invitation to explore the permanent diaconate.

“We were ordained for the permanent diaconate in 2007. I say ‘we’ because two are called and one is ordained,” Deacon Rick said. “We walked together through five years of training, studying together. We prayed together. Ordination opened our eyes to God’s presence daily.”

In June they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary — on a Cursillo weekend.

“May we all walk together to continue to spread the word that God’s great love and forgiveness is for everyone,” Deacon Rick said.

A WARM “GRACIAS”

Marco Salcido, lay director of Cursillo en Espanol, thanks Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, for his support of the spiritual renewal movement and said the faith and involvement of Spanish-speaking Catholics around the diocese continues to grow as a result. Translating his remarks is Deacon Guadalupe Lopez. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The Diocesan Ultreya drew representatives from the Northwest Area Cursillo, Bloomington/Normal Cursillo, Eastern Area Cursillo, Illinois Valley Cursillo and Peoria Cursillo communities, as well as prison Cursillo and Cursillo en Español. A combined choir was led by Sue Bridgewater and accompanied by Steve Harms.

The cohosts for the Ultreya were Mary Pyatt, Ultreya coordinator on the Peoria Steering Committee, and Dodie Gomer, diocesan lay coordinator for Cursillo and master of ceremonies for the evening.

Thanking Bishop Jenky for his role in bringing Cursillo en Español to the diocese 13 years ago was Marco Salcido of Streator, lay director. In his remarks, translated by Deacon Guadalupe Lopez of St. Malachy in Rantoul and St. Elizabeth in Thomasboro, Salcido talked about the ways in which the faith and involvement of Spanish-speaking Catholics has grown in parishes around central Illinois, thanks to Cursillo.

As a token of their appreciation, Jose Vasquez of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish presented a gift basket to Bishop Jenky. A Santa Claus pillow could be seen clearly and the bishop quipped that “I’m starting to look more like the jolly old fellow — beard, belly and all.”

The basket also included a figurine and artwork of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Bishop Jenky thanked all Cursillistas “from the bottom of my heart” and said, “You are a source of enormous consolation to your bishop.”

MAKE ADVENT COUNT

A choir of Cursillistas from around the Diocese of Peoria provided music for the Mass for the second Diocesan Ultreya, which was celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Directing them was Sue Bridgewater, seen at far right. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In his homily, the bishop encouraged them to make Advent a time for growing in relationship with Jesus and in Christian maturity. That includes reading Scripture, spending more time in prayer, and generous giving and forgiving of those we meet, he said.

“Advent is certainly a perfect time to go to confession, to accept God’s gift of mercy and forgiveness, and all the comforting promise of a new way of living,” Bishop Jenky said, adding that it is also a good season to take a half hour away from “the daily grind” to attend Mass.

“The Lord who was born in Bethlehem is the same Lord who wants to be born more fully into our hearts and lives,” he said.

Those who attended the Diocesan Ultreya were invited to share refreshments at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center after Mass.

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