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Editorials & Opinion

REBEL MEDIA: Quincy Cursillo turns 40

11 months ago by Bob Gough

The Quincy Cursillo movement is celebrating its 40th anniversary on August 10 at St. Peter Church

I've been involved with this group for the last seven years and helped edit this piece. BG

The Quincy Cursillo movement is celebrating its 40th anniversary on August 10 in Quincy.

Since the first Quincy Cursillo in December 1974, more than 10,000 men and women have participated in the 304 weekends.  Those who attend are from roughly a 150-mile radius of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, holding eight weekends per year - four for men and four for women. They are held at Quincy Univerisity’s Franciscan Retreat Center at 18th Street and Seminary Road.

Cursillo is a Spanish word meaning "short course".  During this three-day experience, those attending pray together, celebrate Eucharist, listen to talks given by priests, religious and laypersons, and share fellowship of Jesus Christ and each other. Cursillo proposes no new type of spirituality but simply a method through which one's spirituality may be developed, lived and shared in any area of human life.

As a Lay Movement, Cursillo gives those who attend a living understanding of basic Christian truths and a desire to serve the Church. It also provides a means to continue the Christian formation that begins during the three-day experience.

Bob Schepers was instrumental in bringing Cursillo to Quincy. He passed away in 2010, but he gave an interview to Ed Wojicki of the Catholic Times in 1989 that describes the beginning of the movement:

 “In Quincy, the TEC renewal movement arrived three years before Cursillo did. In 1971, Schepers attended the first Great River Teens Encounter Christ weekend as an observer. He was so enthralled by it that he told Father Harry Speckman, OFM, at Quincy College there was to be more to it than the TEC program for teens. So Father Speckman told Schepers about Cursillo, which is for adults, and said a weekend was coming up two weeks later in Peoria.

Schepers, Tony Wiewel and Rich Halle went to Peoria, and in the next few years a few others from Quincy also traveled to Peoria for Cursillo. Schepers’ plan was to use the Peoria Cursillo as a way of recruiting adults to be team members for the Great River TEC, which had gotten off to a good start in Quincy.

Over the years the small band of Quincy cursillistas met regularly, and then in the fall of 1974 Schepers had a dream two consecutive nights in which he heard a masculine voice say “bring Cursillo to Quincy.” That led him to call Father Clarence Chambers, OFM, then rector of the OLA Franciscan Seminary, and said they needed to talk.

“I told him I wanted the B wing of the seminary Dec. 12-15 (in 1974) for Cursillo, and he said, ‘What’s that?’’’

Schepers explained the Cursillo renewal program to the priest, and as Schepers tells it today, Father Chambers “shut his eyes for approximately a minute and he opened his eyes and smiled and said, ‘It’s yours.’’’

A team of willing cursillistas from Peoria was put together, and there were 84 candidates and team members on that first Quincy weekend—quite a large group, considering that an average might be 40 or 50.

Thus came to Quincy a program that has permanently changed the outlook of the Catholic community in the Springfield diocese and teach men and women what it means to live a life of piety, study, and action in the context of a Christian community.”

Quincy Cursillo is not an exclusively Catholic movement but welcomes participants of other faith denominations. More information is on the Quincy Cursillo website www.quincycursillo.com.

The anniversary celebration is Mass at 2pm St. Peter Catholic Church being concelebrated by Fr. John Doctor, OFM and Fr. Tom Heneseler (formerly from Mt. Sterling IL and the Spiritual Director of Cursillo #1 in Quincy).  Fr.
Tom will be the homilist.   A carry in dinner will follow in St. Peters' School.  All who have participated in Cursillo over the past 40 years are welcome.


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