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By Darcy FargoCursillo

Registration is still open for this year’s Cursillo weekends.

The men’s weekend will be held July 12 to 15, and women's weekend will be held August 9 to 12. Both weekends will be held at The Haven in Star Lake.

A Cursillo Weekend is an intense three-day experience of Jesus. Central to the retreat are talks and discussions that introduce participants to prayer/piety (spiritual practices), study (spiritual reading and development) and apostolic action (hearing and responding to God's calls) as means to grow in love of the Lord and share that love with those we meet in our day-to-day lives.

In addition to those talks and discussions, the weekend includes opportunities for both individual and group prayer.

“Cursillo weekend has been a life-changing experience for me,” said Brent Davison, a parishioner of St. Peter's in Plattsburgh, who made his Cursillo weekend in 2014. “I was nervous at first about going into something unknown, but now feel it was one of the most powerful experiences I have encountered. My faith has grown profoundly.”

With the help of resident chaplains, the weekend also gives participant an opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as Mass and the Eucharist.

“Cursillo has given me a deeper love for the Catholic Church and has shown me that through the many spiritual aids it gives us, such as the sacraments, daily Mass, prayer, scripture, adoration and especially the Eucharist, I can know Jesus better and draw nearer to Him,” said Kathy Racette, a parishioner of St. John the Baptist Church in Plattsburgh, who made her Cursillo in 1978.

Of course, weekends also include social time and group celebrations. In addition to growing in faith, most participants grow their circles of friends in faith.

“When I first decided to attend Cursillo weekend many years ago, I was apprehensive,” said Ken Racette, a parishioner of St. John the Baptist in Plattsburgh. “I didn't think I would fit in. I was unsure of myself and somewhat shy. After the first evening, I found myself enjoying the other men on the weekend and actually having fun. There is a closeness that develops during a weekend. It's the result of experiencing Christ's Body in a personal way. I still think fondly of the men I met many years ago on that weekend, even though we are far away from each other.”

After the three-day Cursillo retreat process, Cursillo participants are encouraged form or join sharing groups as part of “the Fourth day,” life moving forward with a focus on prayer/piety, study and action to grow in faith and to share the faith with others. Participants can meet in two types of settings: small group reunions and Ultreya, which is a gathering of small groups. Although encouraged, participation in the fourth day is up to the freedom and choice of the individual.

Participants can meet in two types of settings: small group reunions and Ultreya, which is a gathering of small groups. Although encouraged, participation in the fourth day is up to the freedom and choice of the individual.

“The whole Cursillo process has been positive, however, I think I have gained the most from our weekly small group sessions,” said Deacon David Clark from St. John the Baptist in Plattsburgh, who made his Cursillo in 2015. “These men have become my friends. I find myself, throughout the week, putting myself out there to ensure I have something to discuss for our next small group meeting. This is especially true with 'study.' I have made it a point to learn something new about our faith that I can share. Cursillo has helped me become a better Christian and a better Catholic.”

In the Diocese of Ogdensburg, North Country Cursillo first established an active presence in the1970s. The movement flourished for a time, then declined and went relatively dormant. The movement returned to active status in the diocese in 2014, when a number of diocesan residents attended Cursillo weekends in neighboring Vermont.

In 2015, Cursillo returned to the Diocese of Ogdensburg, with weekends held at Guggenheim in Saranac Lake. Weekends were again held in 2016, this time at Wadham's Hall in Ogdensburg.

Currently, North Country Cursillo is under the spiritual advisement of Fr. Timothy Canaan. The organization's leadership, known as the Secretariat, includes representatives from Plattsburgh, Peru, Saranac Lake, Brasher Falls, Moira and Watertown.

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