GENERAL CHAIR MANUAL (Diocese of Kalamazoo Englsih Movement)
A Handbook for the Support of the Three-day Cursillo Weekend
The main purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to help Catholic men and women become more aware of their calling to be examples of Christian living in their daily lives. In other words, to evangelize, to be Christians who care that others may need or want to know and love Jesus Christ.
Catholic lay people are introduced to Cursillo by participating in a three-day weekend, which is conducted by a team of experienced lay leaders and spiritual directors. The team members have invested their time and energy preparing for this weekend. They and others have worked hard in the process of sponsoring the candidates. Then the community of 30-to-50 Christians join together in experiencing the Fundamentals of Christianity. They share together prayer, the Sacraments, and Holy Scripture. They study together the basics of Christianity in Action. Their hearts and minds and wills are immersed in Christ for those three days.
The team and candidates are supported by others who are working (as well as praying) to provide food, rest and the other needs of the weekend. Everyone is joined in prayer and sacrifice by many other Christians outside the three-day weekend, some of whom may live some distance away. All are asking God to pour down His Grace on the weekend community.
The General Chairperson (or Coordinator) of the Weekend
A person (or possibly a couple or a reunion group) is needed to coordinate the activities that support the candidates and the team on the three-day weekend. When this support is efficient and provided in a loving way, the Cursillo community is free to focus on God.
It is possible that the general chairperson (GC) prepares for the weekend with the team, or even lives with them during the three days, but this is not necessary. What is important is that the GC be named about the same time the rector or rectora of the team is named, because the GC builds the support systems for the weekend so that the leaders and team can focus on delivering the messages. It is important that the rector or rectora and the GC communicate often and easily with each other during the weeks prior to the weekend.
1) Location of the weekend. The Cursillo weekend is held in a place which is available for use from a Thursday through to the following Sunday evening. It is a blessing if a retreat facility is available and affordable, although Cursillo weekends are commonly held in parish halls, schools (open or closed), and/or former convents. That was the case until the fall of 2017 in the Kalamazoo Diocese, where most weekends were have been held at St. Joseph Parish in Kalamazoo. So the first task of the GC is to secure a facility. Currently, the facility now used is the Amigo Retreat Centre in Sturgis, MI, which is working well and will be used at least in the near future for the Kalamazoo English weekends. So then, dates must be coordinated with the Amigo Centre and the Spiritual Advisor and reserve the site, (the sooner this is done, the better).
2) The facility must:
- be able to sleep 40-to-50 people, and that includes adequate restrooms and showers
- have a kitchen where eight meals, snacks and beverages can be prepared for that number of people
- have a dining room
- have a chapel or a room where the Blessed Sacrament may be reserved and visited (sometimes a main church building will be adequate)
- have a room where everyone can sit at round tables that accommodate at least six, (up to eight), people
- have area(s) for free time gathering and for light exercise such as walking
3) The GC should check the facility for operation and for cleanliness. There usually is a maintenance person who would be the logical person to contact. If cleaning beyond the normal is needed, volunteers may be available or a cleaning service can be contracted. An example was the November 2016 weekend at St. Joseph Parish in Kalamazoo, where the former convent needed a thorough cleaning and enough volunteers were not available. Professional help was provided by: Callico Cleaning, 225 Broadway, Suite 4, South Haven MI 49090, (269) 637-6006). They did a good job and their charge was $250. Other cleaning services are listed online.
4) Facility preparation. The facility must be prepared for the Cursillo weekend. Anticipating this, the Kalamazoo Cursillo Movement has a large trailer for storage of materials. Currently (2016) it contains:
- eight round tables for the rollo room
- approximately 50 cots
- large partitions which are used to create a rollo room inside of a large room like a gym
- some kitchenware: approximately 50 plates, cups, bowls, glasses, and silverware sets; some large serving bowls and cooking utensils; extra paper plates and cups
- miscellaneous supplies
- plenty of room for other materials
The Cursillo weekend requires other materials to be available at the facility. This includes:
- 40 to 50 chairs for the rollo room
- 40 to 50 chairs and sufficient table spaces for the dining room
- 40 to 50 seats in the chapel
- a few extra tables
- a sound system, or the availability of connections needed for the Cursillo loudspeaker
- materials to cover windows may be needed for the sleeping area and the rollo room
The preparation of the facility involves a fair bit of work, and the GC will need a crew to have everything ready for Thursday evening. Often the setup is done Wednesday evening. Then, at the conclusion of the weekend, a similar crew is needed to clean and restore the facility to its normal state.
5) Rollo Room supplies.
A good deal of the time spent at a Cursillo weekend is in the rollo room, where small groups discuss the material being presented. The GC, working with the Rector or Rectora, is responsible for having the necessary supplies on hand.
Some of those supplies may be obtained only from the National Cursillo Center: P.O. Box 799, Jarrell TX 76537, (512) 746-2020, FAX (512) 746-2030:
· 40-50 of the new Pilgrim’s Guide ($4.50 ea.)
· 50 Carnets ($6.00) for 50
· 50 Service Sheets (ivory) ($5.00) per box
· 50 Group Reunion Sheets (blue) ($5.00) per box
· 50 “Our Fourth Day” booklets ($4.50 ea.)
· 50 Cursillo crucifixes (flat) ($6.00 ea.)
It’s a good idea to have the quantities shown above on hand several months prior to the weekend.
Other essential supplies can usually be obtained from local sources on fairly short notice, but again plan ahead:
· Bibles (paperback edition of both Testaments)—Newman’s Bookshoppe—($5.00 ea.)
· Notebooks and Pens
· Lanyards (for crosses)
· Rosaries (if Rector/a chooses, may provide as a personal gift)
· Poster Paper and markers
· Song booklets
· Donation Envelopes (100+/per weekend- place in brn envelopes and hand out to team, candidates and those attending closing.
· Manila envelopes (for 4th Day packets for team and candidates)- 50 required
· Teaching aids such as a tripod with paper, and a sound system
It’s thoughtful to have a little table near or in the rollo room where people can find mints, hard candy, products for headaches and indigestion, and water.
6) The Kitchen
It is obvious that the kitchen is a vital part of the Cursillo weekend. Community members must eat and appealing meals are really helpful in promoting conversations and inbuilding community spirit. The kitchen is normally the main challenge facing the GC. The easy way out may seem to be some form of catering, but having such a service is commonly too expensive and it sharply limits the opportunities to involve the larger Cursillo community. Regardless of which path is chosen, the GC is responsible for organizing how the kitchen operation will work.
Successful kitchens can be organized in several different ways. There can be a single kitchen coordinator or committee, who will handle all eight meals, drinks and snacks. This has the advantage of an oversight for all the menus, which can make planning and shopping more efficient. The kitchen coordinator may contact parishes, Ultreyas, group reunions and individual Cursillistas to organize the cooking and the cleanup crews who will be coming to the facility for the various meals. The kitchen coordinator, with the help of the GC, will find people who will be in charge of the meals and cleanup each of the three days.
A somewhat different system was successfully used for the November 2016 weekend. Two women, who were called “kitchen chas”, spent the whole weekend living with the rest of the community. They were experienced and skilled in making coffee and in providing the breakfasts, and they were available to help the cooking and cleanup crews who came in for specific meals from the St. Joseph, Sturgis and other areas. They also did some of the cooking for several of the lunches and dinners.
Regardless of the exact kitchen system, the GC is responsible for making sure that all the supplies for the kitchen are procured and on hand when needed, including requirements for special diets. That responsibility may be shared with the kitchen crews and with other Cursillistas who are outside the facility, but the “buck stops’ with the GC who should be available, or have someone else standing by, even when not at the facility. Hopefully, the GC will be able to involve as many Cursillistas as possible, from different parishes and areas throughout the Diocese.
The GC, working with the Cursillo treasurer, is in charge of payment for kitchen supplies. When other people actually buy them, the GC must collect all receipts and then follow up on repayment to those people.
7) Other responsibilities of the GC
The GC is also responsible for coordinating some other activities related to the Cursillo weekend:
· Name tags. It’s possible that the rector or rectora has taken the job of producing name tags for both the team and candidates; if so, the GC makes sure they are available for the registration people on Thursday evening. Regardless of who makes the name tags, the GC is responsible for having the name tags ready to go by Thursday.
· Registration of candidates on Thursday evening.
The GC should have a team of two Cursillistas ready on Thursday, equipped with a list of the candidates expected for the weekend. When the candidates arrive, their names, addresses, phones and emails are checked for accuracy, and they are given name tags and room assignments. Ideally, Cha Cha’s and other designated persons will be available to assist candidates to their room, (the rest of the team is to be in the social area incognito).
· After it is known which candidates have arrived for the weekend (and the team too), the GC must arrange for the rosters to be prepared and duplicated so that each person can receive a copy on Sunday.
· The weekend photograph is usually taken Friday morning, and the GC is in charge of having a photographer at the facility at the right time. The GC arranges for the reproduction of the photo, the identification of those in the picture, and providing a copy for each person by Sunday.
Being the GC involves work and responsibility, and at times it can seem to be overwhelming. Have faith in the Lord and ask Him for the help you will need. If you feel like your boat is sinking, like the Apostles, ask Jesus to calm the storm. Pray before, during and after your time as GC. De Colores and God Bless You!