The Cursillo Movement was born in Mallorca, Spain, a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea. Developed through the Catholic Action for Youth, under the leadership of priests and laymen, it was an effort to help prepare young men as leaders for a spiritual pilgrimage, (as well as to help cure the bitterness of the Spanish Civil War) and to reactivate men in their parishes. The first weekend was held in August 1944, and the first weekend officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church was held in January 1949.
The Cursillo Movement spread to South America and Mexico, and from there to twenty Spanish speaking countries. Cursillo was brought to the United States by Spanish Air Force personnel training in Texas. The first weekend was held at Lackland Air Force Base in 1957. Spanish speaking Cursillo weekends spread throughout the Southwest and into New York and Ohio.
Cursillo weekends at first were offered only for men. The first Cursillo for women was held in Spain in 1958. The first English-speaking Cursillo was held in San Antonio, Texas in 1961. That same year, the movement spread to California, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Washington State.
Father Tex Hilbert, an Erie priest, experienced a Cursillo weekend in Los Angeles, and soon after founded the Erie Catholic Cursillo in 1963, in Erie, PA.
Since coming to the United States, Cursillo has found expression in several denominations and in nondenominational groups as well, such as Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Via de Cristo, The Great Banquet, and Koinonia. The Movement has spread to many countries. Millions of people around the world have experienced a weekend based on Cursillo.