I came home from church one Sunday back in April and found a message on my phone answering machine to call David Kasprowicz. I had met David years ago after my Cursillo weekend. Upon returning the call, he told me he was going to be the rector for the Illinois Valley Cursillo group’s Men’s Summer Weekend and was inviting me to be on his team.
Nineteen years ago when I was rector for the Heart of Illinois Via de Cristo Men’s Weekend No. 2 in the Peoria area, I had asked David and another Cursillista, Wally Kistenfinger, if they would help us get this program going around Central Illinois.
And they did. So now Mr. Kasprowicz needed help, and I reciprocated.
David gathered a great group of Christians together with a diverse background of personal careers to form Illinois Valley Cursillo Men’s Weekend No. 1132.
Several weeks after the three-day spiritual renewal weekend, I asked David to reflect on his weekend and share some thoughts: Highlights for him and some unexpected GMCs (God-made coincidences).
Mr. Kasprowicz responded, “I called many. We had 26 men on our team, but the men God wanted said ‘YES’. Some I knew well, others never even met before, but with their willingness to give back to what Cursillo did for their faith journey, they shared their time and talent on the weekend to bring others closer to Jesus.”
Continuing on, Kasprowicz said, “The program has outlines and structure for guidance, but it’s just sort of miraculous how the men at the tables came together and bonded (not about sports, politics or special interests) but to learn, share and be filled with the love and grace of the Holy Spirit flowing freely throughout the holy ground at Peterstown.”
The men’s and women’s weekends were held out at quiescent St. Peter & Paul’s Catholic Church surrounded by cornfields.
Reflecting back, David said, “Actual grace for us all was watching a father and his son (whom the dad sponsored) exhibiting an evolving compassion of Christian bonding in their relationship. It was like watching a flower slowly blooming and eventually consummating as two radiant beaming brothers in Christ joined as one in Jesus.”
Rector David said the highlight for him was watching the weekend unfold seeing how the men came to the realization that God is indeed love and truly loves them just where they are, right now at this particular time. God loves us so much, but He refuses to leave us this way, and Cursillo has guidance and methods to help contribute in their faith journey.
As everyone knows who has experienced a Cursillo, Via de Cristo, Walk to Emaus, Tres Deis or The Way, no two weekends are the same for countless reasons. David said the Holy Spirit made it perfectly clear to him his was God’s weekend and not David K’s.
Kasprowicz had this closing comment, “ My sincere gratitude to all the wonderful Cursillistas who volunteered astronomical hours so the men of Cursillo No. 1132 might grow a little closer to our Triune God. We are thankful to have dedicated clergy guiding us through the weekend and offering their time and mentoring.”
The 11 new Cursillistas went away saying, “I wish I had done this sooner.”
Two weekends later, the ladies had their Cursillo weekend at the same location. Christine Liesse was called to be the rectora. Mrs. Liesse did her Cursillo No. 407 25 years ago.
Christy commented that during the complete 72-hour weekend, she could feel the presence of God in the room.
“I just sat back and let the Holy Spirit do His thing. Our team was the tools for the Holy Spirit, and God used us for the weekend,” commented Mrs. Liesse.
“The Pilgrims (nine candidates) were great and bonded with the team members easily. They would come up to me and ask, ‘How did you know to put me at that table?’ God put everyone in places where people needed to be in order to help them grow in their faith. It was beautiful to watch them,:” Mrs. Liesse said..
A personal highlight for Christy was her mother made the weekend. “That was icing on the cake”, said the Rectora for Women’s’ Weekend No. 1133. “My mom made the comment that now she understood why I have had such an interest in Cursillo for the past 25 years.”
“The weekend was a huge success because of everyone involved — Palanca, kitchen crew, music committee, the priests who came to conduct Rollos and Masses and every other Cursillista who helped in any way,” concluded Mrs. Liesse.