The Feast of St. James – Local Cursillistas Walk the Way to Cobble Hill Church

msgr Vaz
Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez, spiritual director of the Spanish Cursillo Movement, holds a wooden pilgrim’s staff topped with a gourd drinking container

Around 200 Cursillistas from Brooklyn and Queens conducted a local Way of St. James on the saint’s feast day, July 25, with a street procession and evening Mass, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at St. Paul’s Church, Cobble Hill.
Cursillistas started their celebration with an outdoor recitation of the rosary at their former retreat house, the SS. Peter and Paul Spirituality Center on Congress St. They prayed and sang amid intermittent rain showers.
Skies began to clear as the marchers stepped off with Bishop Caggiano and Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez, spiritual director of the movement, leading the two-block procession to diocese’s oldest standing church for 7:30 p.m. Mass. Parish groups carried banners and many individuals wore white seashell necklaces painted with red crosses – a symbol of St. James and El Camino de Santiago.
Spanish-speaking members of the Cursillo Movement instituted this local pilgrimage in honor of the Holy Year of St. James last year. Men and women walked between neighborhood churches and conducted a two-mile walk to St. James Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn. The event was so well received among members that Msgr. Vazquez and lay leaders decided to conduct a similar, albeit shorter walk this year to a church named for another saint Cursillistas hold close to their hearts.
“We are honoring today two great saints – Santiago (St. James) and San Pablo (St. Paul),” the monsignor announced.
He explained that St. James is the patron of pilgrims and the patron of Spain. The Cursillo Movement began with a pilgrimage to his shrine in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 1948. Two decades later, St. Paul was named patron of the movement.
“St. Paul was a great missionary and that is what we do as Cursillistas,” he said.
Founded in the 1940s as a way to renew Christian faith and values among the laity in Spain, the movement grew quickly and reached the Brooklyn Diocese in 1962. The following year, Archbishop Bryan J. McEntegart consecrated the Congress St. retreat house, known then as the Casa de Cursillos, for use by the movement.
Through the years, hundreds of Cursillo retreats and thousands of meetings were held at the center, which the diocese closed earlier this summer. The Cursillo Movement will continue its ministry from its new home base, St. Michael-St. Malachy parish, East New York, starting in September.
In his homily, Bishop Caggiano offered support to Cursillistas as they begin a fresh chapter in their movement’s history. He encouraged them to continue proclaiming the Truth and living the mission of evangelization in their new home.
He gave thanks to God for the movement’s members, “for what you do and the wonderful people you are,” and especially Msgr. Vazquez, who has been “a faithful and wonderful priest for many years.”
“I pray the Lord blesses you with every grace and blessing for many years to come,” the bishop said.
The evening was emotional for Nelly Gutierrez, lay leader of the movement, who noted that the walk honors the Spanish roots of the movement, which began with a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James; the saints they strive to emulate; and the movement’s future in Brooklyn and Queens.
“We are going to St. Michael-St. Malachy for the well-being of the movement,” she said. “Wherever we go, Jesus Christ is with us. We are always going to be De Colores.”