Cursillo welcomes new lay director

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Every four years, Arlington Cursillo selects a man or woman to lead the group in their mission of bringing people to Christ. In December, the Arlington Cursillo Secretariat chose Mike McBrady as its new lay director.

McBrady, a parishioner of St. John Neumann Church in Reston, who succeeds Phil Kiko, was installed at a Jan. 12 Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington. Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the Mass, assisted by Fathers Tuck Grinnell, pastor of St. Peter Church in Washington, Va., and spiritual director of Arlington Cursillo; Paul A. Berghout, in-residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington; and Missionhurst Father Michael F. Hann.

Cursillo, the lay Catholic evangelical movement, takes its name from "Cursillos de Cristiandad," Spanish for a "short course of Christianity."

Cursillo was founded in Majorca, Spain, in the 1940s by a group of men wanting to bring other men closer to Christ.

Cursillo candidates enter the movement at a three-day weekend retreat where they pray, attend Mass and strive to become closer to God. That weekend is the "short course of Christianity," and it's what people think of when they hear Cursillo. But as any Cursillista - someone who has completed the weekend - will tell you, it's much more.

"Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ," is a common theme of Cursillo.

McBrady, who has been a Cursillista for about 10 years, said he and his wife, Monica, were invited to a weekend by friends. The experience changed his life.

"It dramatically exceeded my expectations," he said of the weekend.

He looks forward to getting out and meeting other Cursillistas.

McBrady, who spent 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, said that Cursillo was a surrogate family for him and his wife when they were stationed at Coast Guard stations around the country.

Outgoing director Kiko and his wife, Colleen, parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Church, said that they joined Cursillo in the 1980s.

Although he enjoyed his tenure as director, Kiko said it's time for a new person to lead the group. He said he'll continue to be active because of his belief in the movement.

"(Cursillo) is the quickest way to bring people to Christ," he said.

More than 100 Cursillistas and friends attended McBrady's installation.

The congregation sang the Spanish folk song "De Colores," popular at Cursillo events, as the concelebrants processed to the altar.

In his homily, Bishop Loverde, who has been a Cursillista since the early 1970s, spoke about the three themes important to all members - unity, truth and evangelization.

The bishop thanked Kiko for his service and welcomed McBrady in his new role.

"We give thanks for the faithful leadership of Phil Kiko," said the bishop. "We welcome Mike with hope-filled joy, (and ask God) to give him the wisdom and strength needed to lead us."

The installation ceremony was simple. The bishop invited Kiko and McBrady to the altar.

Kiko picked up a crucifix from the altar and handed it to McBrady.

In his remarks, Kiko thanked the Cursillo Secretariat for its support and said that the mission of Cursillo in Arlington is not complete.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said.

McBrady told the congregation that he is unworthy to lead Cursillo, and needs the help and support of all Cursillistas to be effective.

"What I can be, is the cheerleader," said McBrady. "All I have to do is reflect the enthusiasm of those in the crowd who reflect the light of Christ.

"It's a wonderful way to share Christ," he said.

Bishop Loverde agreed that McBrady would be a great cheerleader. He said the secret to a successful Cursillo life is the weekly encounters.

"Alone we can't make it," he said.

Rosemary Brooks, a parishioner of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax, has been active in Cursillo since 1979.

"Mike is a good guy," she said. "He's a good Christian man."

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016