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January 2023
Issue No. 312

A spiritual journey with Cursillo HK5

St John’s Cathedral organised the 5th Hong Kong Cursillo during 1st till 4th October 2022. Our readers may still be unfamiliar with what Cursillo is, so today we have Jacky Yiu, the Lay Director of Cursillo Hong Kong’s organising committee, to let us know the origins of this movement and how it came to Hong Kong.

The origins of the movement

‘Cursillo’ is a Spanish word, and if translated into English directly it would mean something along the lines of ‘a short course’. The translation works in both senses of the word ‘course’, in that it is both a set of lessons, and also a path on which you journey. And so Cursillo is such a camp where attendants learn and walk together. To put it simply, it is a chance for brothers and sisters to share the same journey on the path of faith by praying and learning together in fellowship.

In fact, Cursillo is a global phenomenon. It started during WWII in Spain, when the Catholic Church thought there was need for a spiritual renewal movement, and it quickly spread to the rest of the world. In 1979, the first Cursillo in Australia was held, and from then on this group came to Hong Kong in 2018 to plant our first Cursillo here (the Cursillo HK1) as a gift. Indeed, each Cursillo is considered a gift, as it is prepared by past attendants as a present for the new group of participants.

The exact origins of Cursillo can be traced back to the Majorca island of Spain. It was a group of young Christians who planned a pilgrimage to St James’ tomb, and on the way they prayed, learned, and planned their pilgrimage together. They shared their experiences in faith as they journeyed and camped, which rekindled a spark of hope in their hearts during a time of dismay in the middle of WWII. This pilgrimage soon grew into a format of a four days long journey, where participants would support each other in each other’s faith, and rediscover their original spark of hope. The ultimate goal is to bring this spark back to their parishes, and pass on the spirit of Cursillo.


Cursillo in Hong Kong

With the Australia group gifting Hong Kong our first HK1 Cursillo in 2018, 2019 saw our local attempt with HK2. The Cursillistas (past attendants of Cursillo) who organised the 2019 camp were mainly from the congregation of St John’s Cathedral. Due to the onset of the COVID pandemic and various social movements, HK3 had to wait until June 2021. After that, HK4 was held in June 2022, and HK5, the first attempt at a Cantonese Cursillo, would quickly follow on 1st-4th October at the Salesian Retreat House on Cheung Chau. 

A Cursillo weekend

The focus of a Cursillo weekend is to rediscover the basic pattern of faith in our daily life, including morning and evening prayers, Eucharist, sharing from both laity and clergy, worship, and meditation. The Cursillo camp also has an element of retreat to it, but it is not a traditional retreat per se, as each person can only join Cursillo as a participant once in their lifetime.


After such a weekend, each participant would grow in understanding of their own Christian identity, and renew their wish to lead a Christian life. They are also instilled with the wish to share with others the joy of committing to a Christian way of life. The Cursillistas would afterwards set up groups with who they met during the camp, and pass the spirit of Cursillo on to the next cohort. There are also Ultreya – reunions for past Cursillistas – where past participants could gather and encourage each other to keep that spark of Cursillo hope burning in their hearts.

As a lay-led activity, the organising committee for Cursillo likewise consists mainly of laity. Amongst them is one Lay Director, who is responsible for coordinating with the Spiritual Advisors that the core spirit and values of Cursillo can be passed on. HK5’s Lay Director is Jacky Yiu from St Peter’s, North Point, and amongst the Spiritual Advisors are the Revd Robert Martin, the Revd Amos Poon, and the Revd Polly Wong from St John’s Cathedral, and the Revd Kenneth Lo from St Mary’s Church.

The theme for HK5: Building the Body of Christ in Love

The past Hong Kong Cursillos all share a lineage when it comes to their themes. HK1 had ‘Fan The Flames’, HK2 had ‘Here I Am: Send Me!’, HK3 had ‘Be ready for service, keep your lamps burning’, and HK4 had ‘All things work together for good’. 

Our readers may already notice how these topic reflect the development of Cursillo in Hong Kong. HK1 was when our brothers and sisters from Australia came to ‘Fan the flames’ in our hearts, and rekindle the spark of the Holy Spirit in our first cohort of participants. It was also the triggering point when they passed the torch to us. And so the theme of HK2 is a direct reply to that: Here I am, send me. To be fit for God’s calling, we must ready ourselves, which is why HK3 had the theme of keeping our lamps burning.

In continuation from these past Cursillos, HK4 and HK5 aligned their focus on the establishment of the church itself: the Body of Christ. The conflicts and disagreements we see within our Church has been a prominent discussion point during HK4, and during HK5’s preparations, the Cursillistas mentioned the importance of the hymn The Church’s One Foundation. This is a reminder to us of what St Paul said about a body having many members, and each member having its use. We as believers are to cooperate with others who received different gifts from God, and work together in building our Lord’s church. In this vein, the theme for HK5 was chosen: Building the Body of Christ in Love, referencing Ephesians 4:12, 16. 

Two Cursillistas share their experience of HK5:


Cursillo, or ‘a short course’, is no ordinary spiritual course or retreat. Nor is it simply a pilgrimage with the other members of Christ’s body. It is greater than the sum of all these things. When I arrived at Cheung Chau, and walked towards Salesian Retreat House under the cover of moonlight, I truly felt the words ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. 

I was invited by Janice, who I shared a room with. She didn’t tell me any details about the camp, but I said yes straight away. I didn’t receive any itinerary, and it was not until the first day when I saw the officiant at the altar that I knew whether the prayer and communion services will be conducted in Chinese or English. Such a willingness to trust and accept, and to dedicate every moment to God alone is a reflection of our journey in faith. I really do recommend this ‘short course’ to you all. If you have the time to retreat away from the busy goings-on in life, Cursillo is a must-try if you want to better understand what God has in store for you in life. (Jennifer Tsang)

Joining this Cursillo camp that spans four days and three nights is a challenge for many of us busy urbanites, but I have to say it is all worth it! I listened to 14 past participants sharing their thoughts on different topics, and it made me realise how constant our Lord’s guidance and protection is despite the ups and downs of our life. I was truly touched by some of our group members’ sincere sharing and prayers. Despite the fact that all of my group mates are Anglicans, these four days and three nights were a precious window into each other''s hearts as we encouraged each other in our journey of faith. It really is a treasured experience!

Cursillo is a global movement, and in our camp, I saw the flags of the first five Cursillos held in Hong Kong, each flying high with God’s love. Especially unique was the first one, as it was a gift to us from our brothers and sisters in Australia. I also remember this Spanish hymn De Colores. Whenever we sing it, it’s as if we’re those roosters and hens and chicks at farms, happily dancing and singing together! Such joy there is in a life of God!

May our Lord’s love touch the deepest reaches of our hearts, and may his love light a path for us, to call us on the journey to learn to be closer to Christ, and may God’s love be spread to all! (關黃美珍)

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 312. Please click here>


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