Via de Cristo is a three-day retreat based on the fundamentals of Christianity, concentrating on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Spanish words “Via de Cristo” mean “way of Christ.” The purpose of Via de Cristo is to inspire, challenge, and equip local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, and communities.
Via de Cristo is the Lutheran version of the Cursillo spiritual renewal movement. (Cursillo is pronounced “ker-see-yo” and translates from Spanish to English as “a short course.”) The Cursillo movement began in the Roman Catholic Church on the Spanish island of Majorca in the late 1940’s. It was originally designed as a three-day study course for men as a method to encourage them to become more active in their parishes and communities. As its popularity grew, Cursillo weekends were also offered for women. The first Cursillo in the United States took place in Texas in 1957.
By 1972, many Lutherans had attended Catholic and Episcopal Cursillo weekends. That year, Lutheran groups in Florida and Iowa decided to organize their own weekends, adapting Cursillo to Lutheran traditions.
The first Lutheran Cursillo weekend in Arizona was held in March 1982 in Phoenix. The first Southern Arizona Lutheran Cursillo was held in Tucson during October of 1996. We recently adopted the name “Via de Cristo” in place of Cursillo to bring us into closer cooperation with other Lutheran groups throughout the United States.
The Via de Cristo Purpose
Via de Cristo is a means for spiritual renewal. It is meant to strengthen the faith of Christian men and women, and encourage them to become more fully committed to serving God in every area of life.
The Via de Cristo weekend meets you wherever you are in your Christian walk. Participation in a weekend has proven to result in positive results in a person’s life and in the Christian community. The influence of Christ on the individual is transferred to family, church, school, work and social circles. The goal of the Via de Cristo movement is to make Christ the prime influence in one’s life and in society.
Via de Cristo is:
• a chance to strengthen and renew one’s faith
• a valued resource for Christian growth
• a Christian community
• a way of encouraging Christian action in the Church and the world
Via de Cristo concentrates on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. It gives those who attend Via de Cristo a deeper understanding of Christian truths and the desire to live more fully the message of Jesus to serve mankind. It also provides a means to continue the Christ-centered way of life.
The Three Days
The Via de Cristo weekend begins on Thursday evening and lasts until early Sunday evening. Via de Cristo includes both married couples and single men and women who participate in the weekend with a team of clergy and laypeople. This “team” spends months working and praying in preparation for the weekend.
Thursday begins with a get-acquainted time. The remainder of the evening is quiet. This time of reflection and meditation lasts until Friday morning.
Beginning Friday morning, fifteen talks are given, ten by laypeople and five by clergy. The talks emphasize the true meaning of grace, the sacraments, worship, the nature and need of prayer, living one’s daily life in union with God, studying to understand the gift of God, and introducing Christ to others by word and deed.
During the talks, participants are encouraged to take notes, just as they would in a class. Talks are followed by a discussion.
The atmosphere of the Three Days is one of love, joy, and grace. The Via de Cristo is filled with music, singing, food, fellowship, laughter, reverence, prayer, worship, reflection, and inspiration.
During the Three Days of a Via de Cristo weekend, a person not only hears inspiring talks on what it means to be a Christian, but actually experiences the joy of building on one’s walk with Christ and being part of a genuine Christian community.
The Fourth Day
Attending a Via de Cristo weekend as a pilgrim is completed only once in a lifetime. Therefore, the time following the Three Days of Via de Cristo is known as the Fourth Day. The Fourth Day encompasses all the days following the Three Day Weekend. On the Fourth Day, the new pilgrim is encouraged to:
• expand his/her own prayer life
• embark on a life of personal study
• become a more active disciple
• attend community gatherings in the form of Ultreyas
• take part in group reunion (grouping)
In the Via de Cristo movement the community spirit is continued after the Three Days by Ultreyas (“ul-tray-ahs”), or reunions of the community. These reunions help renew the sense of community of the Three Days. These meetings build the Christian community on a wider basis.
Group Reunion, or “grouping”, is an informal weekly gathering of two or more, who share their faith in Jesus and encourage, support and sustain one another in Christ.
The Via de Cristo weekend lasts only three days, but the experience lasts a lifetime!
Registration forms are available from your congregation’s Via de Cristo parish representative or from the website. Registrants must be at least 21 years old, baptized, and active adult members of a Christian congregation.
Every participant has a sponsor. Sponsors accept the responsibilities of preparing a participant for Via de Cristo weekend, initiating that participant into the Fourth Day after the weekend and assisting him or her in living a Christ-centered life.
You do not pay anything to attend a Via de Cristo weekend. The expenses are paid by fundraisers and donations from others who have previously attended a Via de Cristo weekend.
Keep an open mind and heart in making your decision to attend Via de Cristo. Like you, many attendees wondered if they should go. Once they did go, many have wondered why they waited so long. Now they want others to receive this wonderful gift from God. Please understand that each person’s experiences are unique. For more information or a registration form, please contact your Via de Cristo parish representative or your pastor.