Cursillo community welcomes new spiritual director
Deacon Diener to lead 'keepers of truly Eternal Flame'
CHARLOTTE — The torch of spiritual leadership of the Cursillo community in the Diocese of Charlotte was passed to Deacon Mark Diener by way of a letter of appointment from Bishop Peter J. Jugis on July 23. He succeeds Father Patrick Winslow, the newly appointed pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in northeast Charlotte.
Deacon Diener, a permanent deacon at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte, has been a member of the Charlotte Cursillo community for the past 17 years. He made a Men's Cursillo retreat weekend in Arden in 1995.
"I was not a deacon at that time, but it was on that weekend that my calling to the diaconate was confirmed," Deacon Diener said. "It reignited me to take the steps necessary to present myself to be considered for the diaconate."
Over the past 17 years, he has volunteered on many of the weekend retreats, first as a member of the laity and then as a clergy advisor for both men's and women's weekends. He also served as a rector on a men's retreat in Maggie Valley. Most recently, he has been arranging for deacons and religious to volunteer at the semi-annual weekend retreats.
Pictured above: Deacon Mark Diener addresses the Charlotte Cursillo community for the first time as their new spiritual director at a Men’s Cursillo retreat weekend on Aug. 5 at St. Ann Church in Charlotte. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)
WHAT IS CURSILLO?
The word Cursillo means "short course." The Cursillo movement began in the 1940s in Spain, by a man named Eduardo Bonnin. He was inspired by an address given in Rome by Pope Pius XII in 1940 that acknowledged that there were a great number of people who had moved away from living a Christian life.
When in 1941 more than 100,000 young men involved in Catholic Action were going to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the Shrine of St. James, and needed some training for the leaders and scouts involved, Bonnin created a three-day method of retreat for them.
This three-day retreat is now known as "Cursillos in Christianity," or a "short course in Christianity."
The weekend retreats, which run from Thursday evening through Sunday evening, are held separately for men and for women. They are designed to give Christians a close encounter with Christ and with others to give them the knowledge and encouragement to live their baptismal call to love of God and neighbor.
Members of the Cursillo community are called "Cursillistas," and they commit to meeting in small groups weekly to share their successes and struggles as they endeavor to live fully Christian lives. True Christian friendship is emphasized and many Cursillistas become lifelong friends.
A monthly gathering, called an Ultreya, brings the men's and women's groups together with their families for encouragement, prayer and fellowship at an area church.
The Cursillo movement is now an international movement of Catholics and Christians around the world. The first weekend retreat in the Diocese of Charlotte was held in July 1963 at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte, nearly 50 years ago. Bishop Jugis made his Cursillo retreat weekend in 1985 and is an active supporter of the movement in the Diocese of Charlotte.
DEACON DIENER'S FIRST MESSAGE
On Aug. 5, the Charlotte Cursillo community warmly welcomed Deacon Diener as their new spiritual director. More than 150 Cursillistas stood and cheered as he took the podium at the men's retreat held at St. Ann Church in Charlotte.
"The Holy Spirit is here today, just as it was during Pentecost, just as it was in the 1940s when Cursillo came into being," Deacon Diener said. "So let us be aware of the Holy Spirit's presence and movements as we continue this encounter for others in the future.
"As Cursillistas, we can best be described as the keepers of a truly Eternal Flame, keeping it burning brightly as a beacon for all those whose paths will be illuminated by its light.
"As I see the Olympic torch continuing to be passed around the world, I cannot help but reflect at the words spoken at every one of our baptisms and at every baptism I perform. The words: 'Receive the light of Christ!' This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light. Keep the flame alive in your hearts. 'You have put on Christ; in Him you have been baptized.'"
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
For more information about the Charlotte Cursillo community, go to www.charlottecursillo.org.
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy