CANAS: Cursillo - a short course in Christianity, a long course in friendship with God and others

July 10, 2018

De colores! These simple Spanish words meaning “Of Colors” singing about a rainbow and love of many colors in a 1930’s pop song have become the universal greeting for Cursillistas around the world.

What is a Cursillista? One who undergoes a short course on Christianity and personally experiences God’s love.
A Cursillista is one of the millions of men and women who have taken 72 hours out of their busy lives to attend a Cursillo long weekend from Thursday evening through Sunday. What would it be like to live in a world where each and every person knew for sure that God loves him or her?

Can you imagine? This idea in the late 1930s, by the grace of God, took root in the heart and mind of a young private in General Franco’s Spanish Army. Eduardo Bonnín Aguilo, Servant of God, was stationed in his hometown of Palma de Mallorca. He and a few friends began thinking, praying and talking about this. They wanted every person in the world to know that God loves them.

Bonnín and his friends kept praying for these “faraway” people and asking others to pray as well. In August of 1944 they went into action. Bonnín and two of his buddies spent three days with 14 of the “faraway” persons they had befriended, three days telling them and showing them that God in Jesus Christ loves each person. Their aim was to infect their friends with God’s amazing grace. The Holy Spirit took action.

The Cursillo Movement was born. At the end of this Cursillo one of the new Cursillistas proclaimed, “We won’t stop having Cursillos until we give one on the moon!”

Bonnín and friends considered Cursillo just one step in the development of friendship among persons that lasts for many, many years, often a lifetime.

The movement kept growing, first in Mallorca, then in Spain and Latin America. In 1957, two of Eduardo’s friends, Spanish pilots, came to a U.S. military base in Waco to learn to fly jets. Eduardo packed their bags with notes and outlines telling them, “You will take the Cursillo to the USA.”

The movement in Spanish quickly spread throughout Texas. In 1962, the first Cursillo in the English language was held in San Angelo. At about the same time, the first Cursillo in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston was held at Guardian Angel parish (now St. Juan Diego Catholic Church). Bonnín, who passed in 2008 at the age of 90, is being considered for beatification for following the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Cursillo has spread throughout the U.S. and on to countries like the Philippines, Ireland and New Zealand. It has been adapted for other denominations. And other movements and groups, including ACTS and Kairos, have come from Cursillo. Many millions have encountered themselves, Jesus, and their brothers and sisters at a Cursillo. Thousands of lifelong friendships have formed.

Cursillos in English, Spanish and Vietnamese are approved by the Archdiocese. Weekends are held at the St. Paul Cursillo Center, at 4000 Belk St. The next Cursillo Men’s weekend in English is Sept. 20 to 23 with applications being accepted. Then, following up, group reunions of friends and bigger Ultreyas are held throughout the Archdiocese.

For more information, visit the website Or better yet, ask around and talk with a friend who is a Cursillista! Make friends, become friends, make them friends of Christ! De colores!

Father Eugenio Canas, OMI, is spiritual director for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Cursillo Center.