Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sponsorship in the Episcopal Cursillo Movement

How many of you are ready to show others the joy and renewal that Cursillo can bring to their lives? Are you just dying to get so and so to go and see what you are so excited about?

Great, but let’s talk about a very important topic—Sponsorship—because sponsorship is the way that we all got here to begin with. My sponsor was someone whom I respected and she took me to lunch one day and told me I needed to go to Cursillo. I trusted her judgment and completed my paperwork and went to #98 in 1995. She was absolutely right that Cursillo was something I needed at that point in my life. And it has been a wonderful part of my Christian journey for 13 years.

A great sponsor is many things and all of you can be great sponsors! The most important thing you can do to prepare to be a sponsor is to meet weekly with a group reunion, attend Ultreyas, work in the Servant Community, and go to Cursillo closings or Clausuras (another fun Spanish word to learn!)—basically be living out your Fourth Day in joy.
First, you should pray about those people whom you would like to sponsor even before talking with the priest or with them. This is important to listen to God’s plan for the prospective pilgrims and to determine whether it is “their” time to go. So as you are praying, here is the type of person you are looking for:

A person going to Cursillo must:
be a baptized Christian
be reasonably stable and mature
have a desire for God’s love
and have a longing to be as Christ to others in the world

Wow! So lots of people from your parishes saw these qualities in you and so they wanted you to go to Cursillo.

Second, as a sponsor you have to look for who is ready to go to Cursillo in your parish. This can be tricky because in many of our parishes LOTS of people have already been and some are adamant about NOT going. This step usually requires some assistance from your clergy. You may also want to talk with others in your parish Cursillo community. They can let you know who they think is ready to go and experience Cursillo. It is important that a person be free of family stress—no recent divorce, death, or other trauma. A waiting period of one year after such stress is usually recommended. Husbands and wives should go together if at all possible; some parishes/priests have different feelings about this so be sure to ask.

Then, you start talking to the prospective pilgrims about the Cursillo experience. Gus and I took our prospective pilgrims to dinner one night and gave them an overview of Cursillo and let them ask questions. This worked well for us, but you can also answer these types of questions at coffee hour or at parish events where you discuss Cursillo with prospective pilgrims—kind of like an open house.

It is important to remember that you can tell them lots without giving away the surprises. And to steal a line from Dr. Margaret at Christ Church—it’s less about secrets, and more about surprises.

So give them a general outline of the weekend that certainly describes the weekend but leaves out the surprises:
1. I will drive you up there on Thursday.
2. You will give up your watch and other electronics
3. You will be quiet on Thursday.
4. You will listen to 15 talks that revolve around a short course in Christianity.
5. You will go to some church services.
6. You will have time for fellowship, food, and fun.
7. You will not have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
8. I will come back and get you on Sunday.

After the candidate has agreed to participate, you should get the required forms from your Ultreya Lay Rector—that is the person in your parish who is the “official” go-between from your parish Cursillo community to the Secretariat. Then get your pilgrim to complete the Pilgrim Application and give the priest in your Parish the Priest form. You complete the sponsor form. You turn all 3 of these forms back into your Ultreya Lay Rector who forwards them to the Application Chair for Alabama Cursillo.

In God’s time, your candidate will receive a letter from the Lay Rector of their weekend to let them know they have been accepted.

Seven Sponsorship Specifics
1. You promise to take care of all the pilgrim’s needs and concerns at home including babysitting, pet sitting, whatever so she/he does not have anything to worry about at home. This means that YOU take care of their children or pets, pick up the mail and papers, run errands, serve on Sunday at church, or that YOU make arrangements for all these things to be taken care of; this is your apostolic action for them to be away for the weekend of Cursillo so that they can be fully present at Camp McDowell.
2. You deliver your pilgrim to camp on Thursday. And it doesn’t matter how much gas is a gallon, or how inconvenient it is to get off early on Thursday afternoon, or how long it takes to drive to Camp McDowell from where you live—just do it! We were lucky to have such a great group at #161 that all of you were delivered by your sponsors.
3. You send 3 days of palanca to your pilgrim. The importance of these notes (in addition to the stuff affectionately known as Jesus Junk) is extraordinary. Think about your reaction to palanca from your sponsor. You want to recreate that feeling for anyone that you sponsor. And it is also nice to do palanca for all the pilgrims and/or staff. These notes and prayers are powerful even if you only do one of the three days.
4. You attend the closing or Clausura on Sunday afternoon and pick them up. This is important so you can be there to celebrate the Cursillista’s weekend with them. And be sure not to have any conflicting weekend plans on Sunday evening so you aren’t in a hurry to get back home. The new Cursillista will want to hang out at the Reception and talk with everyone. It is very important for YOU, not just someone they know from the parish, to pick up the new Cursillista and for you to have a relaxed attitude about when you are going to get home.
5. You should not sponsor more than 2 people in a year because of the responsibilities associated with sponsorship. This means that you may just sponsor one couple from your parish in a calendar year, but if you do all the things a good sponsor does, you won’t have time to do them well for more than 2 people. You can enlist others from your parish to be sponsors of people if you are unable to sponsor someone when you think it is “their” time to go.
6. You are eligible to sponsor someone after you have been a Cursillista for a year and have been involved in a Group Reunion, Ultreya, and other Cursillo events during that year. At the earliest, you can sponsor someone for #166 which is in March 2009. On the sponsor application, it asks very specific information about your participation in Fourth Day activities. By participating in these activities, you are preparing yourself to be a wonderful sponsor.
7. After Cursillo, it is YOUR responsibility to get your pilgrim into a weekly reunion group that he is comfortable with. This means A REUNION GROUP, not necessarily YOUR REUNION GROUP. Some new Cursillistas have to try out several groups before they find a meeting time and group of people that works for them. Remember that the whole point of Cursillo is the Fourth Day and that is what you want to make sure “sticks” with the Cursillista.

Live joyfully into your Fourth Day, and find other wonderful people to share the Cursillo experience with through sponsorship.
De Colores!


Laurie said...

This talk was distributed to all of the Lay Rectors in the Diocese of Alabama. I hope it helps clarify all the responsibilities that a sponsor has.

Beth Spradley said...

Just found this. About to send a link to our Ultreya, since it is just as relevant now.