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November 8 , 2000
Pilgrimage renews desire to proclaim Good News
By Erlinda Moscoso
Albert Quintana just returned from a trip to the Holy Land and Rome where he saw Pope John Paul II, and renewed his commitment to the Cursillo Movement.
"I got to sit on the same stage as the Pope. I know he spoke directly to me. Can you imagine, having the Pope speak to you?" Albert told me with excitement.
"You mean he looked at you and spoke to you?" I asked.
"Well, no, there were over 20,000 Cursillistas in St. Peter Square and about 100 on the stage with him but I know he spoke to me," he explained.
The Cursillo Movement began in Spain 50 years ago after being founded by Bishop Juan Hervas, a pastor in Palma de Mallorca. Today, there are more than five million "Cursillistas" throughout the world.
As Albert told me about his 21-day pilgrimage to Africa, Asia and Europe, I began to share his excitement. It was a journey that would renew his desire to dedicate his life to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Cursillo Movement.
Departing Denver, the group traveled to Turkey and Egypt. Near Cairo, camels with shaggy humps, sad eyes, and chewing on their cud gave the pilgrims loping rides through sand dunes. As of old, venders pitched small tents to sell trinkets to the tourists.
The next stop was Nazareth in Israel. "Can you believe, that my wife Louise, my son, Javier, and the rest of the people traveling with us, were in Nazareth? This is where Christ walked. We saw the bluish- green Sea of Galilee and knew we were at the main spot where Jesus performed miracles," he told me.
They visited the church where the miracle of the "loaves and fishes" occurred. The area where St. John the Baptist was baptized, beckoned the travelers to take off their shoes and wade in the cool water. Driving to Jerusalem and Bethlehem the large olive-green war tanks and missiles were seen along the road. The area seemed to be a place of contradictions.
In the ancient city, their guide threw out facts: There were 15 meditation points through the streets of Jerusalem, where Jesus carried the cross; the oldest olive tree is over 3,000 years old; a stone wall surrounds the city.
The pilgrims made their way up the extremely narrow streets until they reached the dark, cave-like tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the body of Jesus had been buried after the crucifixion. "Surely, it is the holiest place in the world!" he said.
While Albert was visiting the "Wailing Wall," a place holy to the Jewish people, it occurred to him that he had been involved in the Cursillo leadership for 15 years. He wondered if he should continue dedicating his life to the movement. After all these years, maybe he had no more to offer? Had he not done all that he could do? Maybe God gave him this trip as a way of ending his involvement with the movement?
The group then journeyed to Rome. After resting from the first leg of the pilgrimage, the travelers were ready to see the Holy Father. More than 20,000 people from five continents were assembled for the Third World Ultreya of the Cursillos de Cristiandad. The massive crowd joined in singing "De Colores" as they waved multi-colored flags. The square was transformed into a rainbow of color.
Pope John Paul II began to speak and mentioned the countries represented: Canada, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Bolivia, Mexico, Poland, France, Portugal, the United States, and on and on.
Albert had the privilege of joining a large group of Cursillistas on the stage. He recalls the crowd, but says that he felt as if he were sitting alone in the Pope's presence.
"Peter was the first, you are the ones who have followed. You who have generously opened your hearts to Jesus are being asked by him to proclaim his name untiringly to those who do not yet know him," the Pope said.
If there were any doubts in Albert's mind, they were erased by the Holy Father's comments as he continued his address:
"The Cursillo method aims at helping to transform in a Christian way the milieus where people live and work through the involvement of `new men and women' who have become such from their encounter with Christ.
"This is the goal of the three-day `little courses' on Christianity, in which a team of priests and lay people, supported by the prayer and sacrifices of the movement's other members, communicate the fundamental truths of the Christian faith in an especially "living" way.
"When presented in this way, the message of Christ almost always opens participants in a Cursillo to the gift of conversion and to a deeper awareness of the Baptism they have received and of their own mission in the Church ... You who have generously opened your hearts to Jesus are being asked by him to proclaim his name untiringly to those who do not yet know him.
"He is calling you to his service, to the service of his Truth, the truth which makes us free ... many people are looking to you for the light of faith ... In encountering Christ, you have learned to look with new eyes at others and at nature, at every day events and at life in general.
"You have experienced that true happiness is found in following the Lord. This personal and community experience must be passed on to others. Many men and women of our time, who unfortunately turn away from God, expect from you the light of faith that will help them rediscover the colors of life and the happiness of feeling loved by God ... "Courage! Ultreya! Go forth!" the Successor of Peter repeats to you today.
"Look to Mary, an example of unfailing fidelity to God, and, like her, put your trust in every circumstance in God, the Father of Mercy who guards your steps on the way of truth and love," concluded the Holy Father.
Albert was reaffirmed in his mission and was ready to return to continue his work in the Cursillo Movement. Looking at Michelangelo's beautiful work in the Sistine Chapel confirmed the love and excitement he felt stir in his heart at the Holy Father's words.
"The key to the Cursillo Movement is to Evangelize - where ever you are and whatever you are doing, bring Christ to where you are and others will know him also," he said.
Albert's journey of faith continues as he proclaims the name of Jesus through the Cursillo Movement.