By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
With smiles, song and worship, dozens of members of the Trenton Cursillo movement, many sporting vests brightly embroidered with religious symbols and phrases, gathered Sept. 8 for Mass and to celebrate the installation of a new secretariat of officers.
In his homily, Father Edward H. Blanchett, pastor of Visitation Parish, Brick, and chaplain to the Trenton Cursillo, drew a parallel between the genealogy of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew and the aims of the Cursillo movement.
Photo Gallery: Cursillo Mass
“None of these people knew they would be part of that family tree of Jesus. These people played a part in the salvation of the world,” said Father Blanchett, principal celebrant of the Mass held in St. William the Abbot Church, Howell. “The angel said, ‘Trust in God.’ Even in the midst of uncertainty, we are called to do the same thing. We are in the midst of very uncertain times, [but] we are called to play our part in salvation and bring as many as we can with us.”
To keep people grounded in truth, Father Blanchett said the faithful must pray, study and take action. “Ask those who will be leading us in the Cursillo to help us, bring light to those in darkness. St. Paul, patron saint of the Cursillo, pray for us,” he said.
Cursillo, which began as a three-day weekend of intensive spiritual reflection and exploration, has its roots in post-World War II Spain. In the Trenton Diocese, the Cursillo movement began as a Spanish-language outreach in 1971 and was introduced in English the following year.
At the Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Jay Bowden, a retired priest of the Diocese, and Father Thomas Maher, St. William the Abbot Parish pastor, the new secretariat members were called one by one before the congregation to affirm their service and faith.
The new members, who will serve as faith leaders for two years, are: lay director Mary Weis, assistant lay director Kathy Tucker, pre-Cursillo officers Amy Sechiano and Robert Lauricella, Cursillo officer Maria Palumbo, secretary/treasurer JoAnne Henderson and deacon spiritual adviser Deacon John Clymore of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel. Adelaide Sangiorgi was recommitted as post-Cursillo member.
The congregation closed the celebration by singing a Mexican folk song, “De Colores,” also the phrase with which Cursillo members, known as cursillistas, greet one another. Spanish for “In Colors,” and considered by many to be the movement’s theme song, the playful tune calls all to a joyful realization of God’s love and the presence of Christ in themselves and others.
During the reception that followed, cursillistas were eager to share their insights on the program and how it has transformed their faith lives.
Mary Ann Dow of Holy Family Parish, Lakewood, has been involved in the Cursillo movement for 25 years. “It’s a coming alive of the faith,” she said.
Terry Ginther, diocesan chancellor and executive director of the Office of Pastoral Life and Mission, agreed.
Upon her college graduation, Ginther joined the Cursillo movement in the Richmond, Va., area and has remained a member for more than 30 years.
“The pieces all fit together,” said Ginther, a parishioner of St. Denis, Manasquan. “The structure of the weekend causes you to step away, connect the dots between the information you learned as a child and see how essential a relationship with Christ is. The challenge is for you to live it on ‘the fourth day’: the rest of your life.”
Broadly beaming as she exchanged hugs and congratulations with her fellow cursillistas, Weis, a member of St. William the Abbot Parish, summarized her reasons for her two-decades-long membership.
“I am blessed. It has changed my life,” Weis said. “You get a deeper relationship with Christ. To find your responsibility, what God has intended for you on this earth, come to Cursillo.”