Cursillo and the 4th Day

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Cursillo begins with a 3 day weekend, but the 4th day is the heart and soul of the Cursillo movement. Cursillo’s focus on “The 4th Day” is a reminder that we are called to action as we serve our parishes and communities and share God’s love with people both inside and outside the church. 

In a recent conversation, Alabama Cursillo President John Poole shared his personal experience with the 4th day. John and his wife Amy attended a Cursillo weekend in 2010, and he’s been meeting with a reunion group at All Saints Episcopal Church in Homewood ever since. A reunion group is a group that meets weekly to share three things from their lives in the previous week. 

  • Closest moments with God
  • Something studied the previous week to know God better
  • An act of service to God or another person 

John’s group has met almost every Friday since 2010. Sometimes they don’t make it to the planned discussion, getting lost in a combination of great stories and ridiculous jokes.  Either way, as this group met week after week, they built strong bonds of friendship. Nobody in this group knew what storms lay ahead, but each week without realizing it, they were adding a few bricks to a storm shelter.

In February of 2013, John received terrible news.  He was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma.  He consulted with numerous physicians and found himself sitting with Amy in an exam room discussing his chances of five year survival. After much thought and careful consideration, he decided to pursue an aggressive treatment plan at M.D. Anderson in Houston. The doctors there gave him confidence and hope that through lymph node removal and chemotherapy, the odds could be made as favorable as possible.  

As the date approached, John’s anxiety increased. By the time he traveled to Houston for the surgery that his reunion group affectionately dubbed his “medical ass whipping”, he was battling fear and dreading the recovery and upcoming chemotherapy. As he checked in at his hotel, the clerk at the front desk said, “Sir, are you expecting a large delivery?” John was perplexed, and told the man that he wasn’t expecting anything. 

As John entered his hotel room, he described what he saw as a “game changer”. He had chosen to share his condition with just his immediate family and only a handful of close friends.  Joan Stough from Church of the Advent had coordinated with John’s reunion group and close friends, many of whom are Cursillistas from across the Diocese, to make sure that John knew that he wasn’t alone. His room had a care package filled with cards, letters, ridiculous wigs, and decorations. He and Amy felt completely surrounded by the love of God and the love of his community in the church. 

“It was just incredible. I was so nervous and so worried, but after that, I was like, ‘It’s all good.’ I literally wasn’t worried any more. Those notes and gifts changed everything.”

John completed his treatments about a year later, and he recently returned from a trip to M. D. Anderson for his 5-year follow up visit with another clean bill of health.  

John says, “These kinds of stories are everywhere. They are all over the place. These are the kinds of stories that call us back to reunion, and they remind us to look for a special way to share God’s love with someone when they are having the worst kind of day.”

Cursillo begins with a 3 day weekend, but that weekend is just the tip of the iceberg. The real meaning of Cursillo is found in the 4th day. The 4th day reminds us to share God’s love with everyone that we meet. It is a mind renewed by studying to know God better and service to our parishes and our communities. It is a storm shelter that holds us when the hell in this life confronts us, and it is the laughter and love among friends as we come together in the church to create an embassy for heaven here on earth.

Would you like to find out more about the 3 day Cursillo weekend and, even more importantly, the 4th day? Contact your local Parish Lay Rector or email to info@alabamacursillo.org for more information.