Diocesan Ultreya brings Cursillistas together for the first time in four years

Bishop Louis Tylka smiles as he receives a gift basket from the Cursillo en Espanol community from Evelio Aguilarat the Diocesan Ultreya on Nov. 5. Included were a flower and Mexican snacks and soft drinks.. Looking on are Deacon Gabriel Guerrero (left) and Deacon Rick Miller. (Provided photo/Greg Taylor)

After four years of being separated due to the pandemic, the Cursillo community reconnected in a big way on Nov. 5 with a Diocesan Ultreya at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Joining them for the first time was Bishop Louis Tylka, who celebrated the Mass.

The celebration was hosted by Peoria Cursillo and drew members from the other four Cursillo centers in the Diocese of Peoria — Bloomington-Normal, Quad Cities, Eastern, and Illinois Valley, as well as Cursillo en Español. Cursillo teams also have ministered in prisons located in central Illinois.

Cursillo is a Spanish word that means “a short course.” Weekends for men and women provide an opportunity for them to work on their relationship with God and learn more about living their faith, said David Ferron, diocesan lay coordinator for Cursillo.

Deacon Rick Miller, spiritual director of Peoria Cursillo, offered a reflection on the theme “In God’s Time” at the Diocesan Ultreya. He said that to bring another person to Christ we must truly listen to them, accepting their pain, doubts and fears. (Provided photo/Greg Taylor)

Those who have made the weekends are known as Cursillistas. An Ultreya is when Cursillistas come together in Christ’s name and reconnect.

While each Cursillo center holds its own Ultreyas, Ferron said Diocesan Ultreyas are not common.

“It was so nice to be able to do it,” he told The Catholic Post. “The communities themselves are reengaging in a lot of activities they haven’t been able to do for the last several years.”

None of the diocesan centers have been able to offer Cursillo weekends until fairly recently, for example, Ferron said.

“We were still under COVID restrictions and basically shut down those weekends,” he explained. “We did some other things, like Zoom calls and Bible studies, but it wasn’t the same set of experiences. This year was the first year we were really able to bring people back together in group settings and do those things Cursillo likes to do.”

After Mass, those who attended the Diocesan Ultreya continued the celebration with social time at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center. During the gathering, Cursillistas recognized Deacon Rick Miller for his service as spiritual director of Peoria Cursillo since Jan. 1, 2017.

Deacon Miller offered a reflection before Mass on this year’s Ultreya theme, “In God’s Time.”


Bishop Tylka said waiting on God’s timing can be difficult because it is natural for people to want to see the immediate result of what they do. That may not happen in our lives of faith, however.

“There are many times we have no idea whether or not what we have done to share the good news has left an impact on others,” he said in his homily. “We may never know. We may never find out.”

“If we live for Christ, allowing the Lord’s Spirit to be alive in every word and every deed, as St. Paul says, then the goodness of our life will have an impact. It will transform lives. It will bring others to Christ.” — Bishop Tylka

And yet, that shouldn’t prevent us from doing what we are called to because of who we are, Bishop Tylka said.

“We are called to be disciples and to go make disciples. We do that because God has loved us first,” he told the Cursillistas.

“We have experienced that love powerfully in our own life and the life of the church and the life of the community of Cursillo,” Bishop Tylka said. “It has a huge impact on us. It changes us. It transforms us and pushes us on.”

How do we live without becoming discouraged? The bishop encouraged them to do what St. Paul said and never lose sight of Jesus, but to be patient and persevere because of their own experience of Jesus in their lives.

“If we live for Christ, allowing the Lord’s Spirit to be alive in every word and every deed, as St. Paul says, then the goodness of our life will have an impact. It will transform lives. It will bring others to Christ,” Bishop Tylka said.

Before the Mass ended, the Cursillo community offered a straw cross, a crucifix with the inscription “God is counting on you,” and their prayers to Bishop Tylka.

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