Questions and answers


For those of you who may not have heard about Pilgrimage and its mission of adult spiritual growth and renewal in the church and in our community, below is a list of common questions and answers about the retreat weekend.

What is a Pilgrimage Retreat?
It’s a three-day spiritual renewal experience designed to help Presbyterians and other Christians gain a more personal awareness of their faith, as well as the joys and commitment which that faith brings.

What happens after the weekend?
The weekend is only the part of the renewal journey. What you learn and share during the weekend will hopefully be taken back and put into practice in your local congregation and community. You will be supported by many others who have attended before or attend with you. Small groups meet regularly (usually weekly) to affirm one another and to share the Christian life of grace. These activities inspire, challenge, and encourage Christian action in homes, churches, and communities.

Where did the name Pilgrimage come from?
The Pilgrimage is an outgrowth of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement. Cursillo (pronounced kur-SEE-yo) is a Spanish term that literally means “a short course.” The Presbyterian Church became involved with Cursillo in the late 1970s, began holding Cursillo weekends in many communities throughout the U.S., and in the 1990’s began using the name Presbyterian Pilgrimage. In addition to the Roman Catholic Cursillo and Presbyterian Pilgrimage movements, there are similar expressions in the Methodist, Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, and other Christian churches. These 3-day retreats highlight the basics of the Christian faith and how Christ’s followers can live their lives in light of God’s love and grace, everyday.

Where did it all start?
Cursillo was developed in the Roman Catholic Church in Spain more than 60 years ago to promote and train followers to return to their Christian faith and to live the Christian life. Over time it spread across continents and denominations. As this 3-day retreat model was embraced by other denominations it assumed a variety of other names such as Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Episcopal Cursillo, Pilgrimage, and Great Banquet. Unlike some of these other forms, the Presbyterian Cursillos are co-ed and consistent with the Reformed Faith.

What will I experience on the Pilgrimage Weekend during the 72 hours of the Pilgrimage weekend?
The laity-led weekend is centered around talks by lay people and clergy, with times of small group discussion, prayer, meditation, singing and celebration.

Who can go to the Pilgrimage?
The weekend is intended for adult members of any Presbyterian or other Christian church who already have faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ; who seek an even closer and more personal relationship with Christ; and who desire to heighten their joy, deepen their faith, and invigorate their life in Christ.

Why should I go?
Because you’ll be touched by God’s amazing love like you’ve never been before. Here are a few comments from others who attended:
“a profound time of spiritual growth and fellowship”
“an experience with Jesus Christ that increased my faith in Christ and fellow Christians”
“a changing point in my life; I felt a peace inside of me that I haven’t felt in 20 years.”
“It renewed my desire to do Christian service.”
“I stopped being a Sunday-only Christian.”
“Since my Pilgrimage experience…how can I be anything but joyful at the thought of living for Him and listening for His call on my life?”
“Pilgrimage was unique in that it wasn’t only talking about God or reading about God – it was also experiencing the love of God in such a tangible manner throughout the entire weekend.”

Whatever happened to Chicagoland Cursillo?
Presbyterian Cursillo came to Illinois from Oklahoma in June 2000. Since then the Chicagoland Presbyterian Cursillo community has staffed and run eighteen spiritual renewal weekends. More than 300 people from 16 area churches have attended.  Other persons from states such as New York, Indiana, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin have been participants.  But now Cursillo is gone. More or less. After much prayer and consideration, at an Ultreya gathering at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston on February 27, 2009, the Chicagoland Presbyterian Cursillo Community voted to convert to Presbyterian Pilgrimage.

There are a large number of Cursillo related spiritual renewal movements underway throughout the United States. Presbyterian Pilgrimage is one of them, as is Presbyterian Cursillo. Other well known, similar three day weekends are: Walk to Emmaus (Methodist oriented), via de Cristo (Lutheran Oriented), Tres Dias (non-denominational), and Episcopal Cursillo. And of course, Roman Catholic Cursillo which has served millions of participants worldwide since 1948. Communities operating under a license from the Roman Catholic Cursillo such as Presbyterian Cursillo and Episcopal Cursillo are limited to having participants and staff from their own denominations.

Pilgrimage was not available to us in 2000 when Chicagoland launched with its first weekend, however, last year the Oklahoma Presbyterian Cursillo Community, who sponsored and trained us, converted to Pilgrimage. By converting to Pilgrimage, Chicagoland joins 8 other Presbyterian Pilgrimage communities in Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Why the name change and what benefit does it bring?
We would no longer be bound by the license with the Catholic Church for the use of the name Cursillo. We would no longer be restricted by the requirement that all participants and staff be Presbyterian Church members.

The method and program of Cursillo and the three day weekends does not change!
To continue its Presbyterian orientation and Reformed Faith tradition, the new Chicagoland Pilgrimage By-laws require that at least half of the staff and participants will be Presbyterian, as will the leader of the three spiritual advisors (pastors) normally in attendance at each lay-led weekend. The community does not anticipate recruiting participants from other denominations. However, Presbyterians who have experienced a Chicagoland Cursillo weekend will be able invite friends and relatives who are Christians, but members of other denominations, to attend and experience the impact that Presbyterian Pilgrimage weekend can have on their spiritual life.

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