Victor parish becomes Ultreya Center - Catholic Courier

Victor parish becomes Ultreya Center

The Cursillo movement provides an opportune way for people to deepen their relationship with Jesus during the three-year Spirit Alive! diocesan spiritual renewal, according to Mike Kristan, an organizer of a new group of Cursillo participants at St. Patrick Parish in Victor.

"Because the bishop is calling for this renewal presence, I think that’s where the Cursillo movement can really come into play to help augment the whole renewal process of this diocese," he recently told the Catholic Courier.

The Cursillo movement started in Spain in the 1940s and came to the Rochester Diocese in the 1960s. The movement’s goal is to nurture Catholics’ desire to learn more about their faith, Kristan said. Cursillo helps Catholics become more aware of the Holy Spirit working in them and touching the lives of others through them.

"The movement itself was really designed … to provide that spiritual push inside of them to desire to learn more about what they believe in. It is the building of desire to know more about the Christian gifts given to us through study and community sharing," he said.

Kristan noted that evangelization is a key component of the Cursillo movement.

"It is a movement not for itself, but for the greater good of all people in the world who will be touched by someone who has gone through this experience," he added.

Most people’s first experience with Cursillo comes through a weekend retreat. This Cursillo weekend includes time for small-group sharing and discussion, moving witness talks, silent prayer and meditation, and a variety of other forms of prayer, such as the rosary, Kristan said. This weekend provides participants with a way to escape their day-to-day distractions and instead focus on their own spiritual awareness.

"It’s an emotional experience, as often when you get closer to the Spirit it can be," he said. "It’s really meant to be an individual thing, but you become intimate with a small group of people and you share things with them. You learn from each other. That’s the whole point of Cursillo, is to create community."

A Cursillo weekend is typically a one-time experience, and a person who has participated in a Cursillo retreat becomes known as a Cursillista, Kristan said. After making their Cursillo weekend, Cursillistas are invited to participate in monthly Ultreya meetings, which are held in a variety of locations throughout the diocese.

These Ultreya meetings are almost like the shortened, "CliffsNotes" versions of the Cursillo weekend, Kristan said. The meetings are only 90 minutes long but usually include a witness talk, music, meditation, prayer and social time.

"The Ultreya is what kind of keeps you connected to the community and the ideas and things that came out of that. It’s a renewal of your experience at Cursillo that reinforces the aspects of Cursillo," he said.

A place that hosts these monthly meetings is known as an Ultreya Center. The Ultreya Center at St. Patrick Parish is one of the newest, but there also are centers in the Bath, Dansville, Geneva, Hilton, Hornell, Ithaca and Rochester areas. The first meeting held at the Victor parish took place in April, and meetings will be held there on the third weekend of every month to further the Cursillo movement’s goal of developing communities of people who can support each other while fulfilling the Gospels’ call to evangelize, Kristan said.

"It’s about renewing that, which is why it interfaces very well with Spirit Alive! It kind of folds in well with that," he noted.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the Ultreya Center at St. Patrick Parish in Victor, e-mail Michael Kristan at For more information about the Cursillo movement in the Diocese of Rochester, visit

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