Women’s Cursillo Reunion — June 17, 2023, at Our Lady of Hope Church in Carle Place, NY By Angie-Lee Vazquez

There is no doubt that June is one of the busiest months in the year—what with graduations, other end of school year celebrations, parades, Father’s Day and lingering sacrament celebrations. Yet, on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at Our Lady of Hope in Carle Place, two of our very own, Theresa McHugh and Darlene McGovern, brought to life their shared vision of a Women’s Cursillo Reunion. With the help of fellow Cursillistas, Lorraine Kosinski, Laura Miraglia, Tracey O’Reilly, Darcy Romano, Dany Smith, & Angie-Lee Vazquez, they worked to bring a total of 42 Cursillistas together to spend some time in fellowship, prayer, & reflection. The busyness of the month’s festivities did not deter these women, who made their weekends over the last several years, to take the time to come together as a community of faith filled women—who not only recognized their need for God, but their need for one another.    

The room was abuzz with energy, as many of us gathered for a light breakfast with one another and spent some time catching up. As the morning progressed, we were led in prayer by Darlene McGovern. We found ourselves reflecting on the ways we need the Cursillo  community to help us renew our flames when they become just sparks, and reveling at how God is always in our midst when we come together. Following our prayer, we engaged in an activity led by Theresa McHugh that brought out our childlike natures as we raced to complete the task at hand. The activity resulted in much laughter, teamwork, and a deeper understanding of how we need one another on this spiritual journey in life. Lorraine Kosinski presented a talk on the obstacles we can     sometimes face while living our 4th Day, which led to a rich discussion = despite our very good intentions, sometimes we are faced with obstacles that do indeed lead us to stray from both God and our faith communities. But because of our community, we gratefully realized—there is always a way back.

Throughout our time together, I heard many comments reiterating the need for more time to come together like this. Statements such as, “I really needed this,”  or “We should do this more often,” or “It was so good to see everyone and connect again,” were made repeatedly—once again proving that there is nothing like our Cursillo community. The ability to come together and pick up with each   other, even after years, is a gift! Truly, it is the gift of God’s grace, found in one another. It was a beautiful morning spent together for sure. And one that    ended with the desire for more. So ladies, if you weren’t able to make this one, stay tuned! There will be more to come!


The Gift of a Cursillo Weekend By Angie-Lee Vazquez

It was a warm summer evening on the night of July 10, 2014. I pulled up to the parking lot of Jesus of Nazareth Retreat Center, where the Women’s Cursillo #274 was being hosted. I     remember arriving and feeling a sense of apprehension. What was I doing here? 

And then I remembered. I’m here because I feel spiritually dry. I was going through the motions at church. You know, attending Mass, serving in the parish, and going to formation classes. That’s what good Catholics do, right? Yet, I felt there was something more to it all that I just wasn’t getting. More to my faith. More to my story with God. Yes, that’s right. That’s why I was there. 

So, I arrived that Thursday evening of my Cursillo weekend, nervous, unsure, but willing and open  because my desire to walk with God more closely beat out any uncertainty or nervousness I had. 

From the moment I arrived to the moment I walked out, I felt unconditional love. I experienced our living God in each smiling face and in each activity over the course of the weekend. 

The first day or so, I remember listening to some of the talks and the women who were there and thinking, “Wow, look how beautiful these women’s stories of faith are. They are so brave and open to God at work in their lives. I wish I could be like that.” 

By the time Sunday rolled around and I kept listening to God’s messages for me, I realized a truth that I have not since forgotten. I am like that. I too have a God who is at work in my life, and I too have a beautiful faith story, a story written just for me by a God who loves me unconditionally. 

I journeyed inward that weekend and encountered God in a most intimate and lasting way. I heard God speak to me so clearly and loudly: “You are loved. You are worthy. You are mine.” I began to see myself the way God sees me, and as a result, a whole new world opened for me. 

Choosing to make a Cursillo weekend is more than choosing to go on a retreat. It is about giving yourself the gift of a weekend spent in the loving embrace of God. 

My Cursillo weekend was probably one of the most transformational experiences of my life. Nine years  later, it is still alive in me, and I carry within my heart the many messages I received that help me remain deeply and intimately in God’s friendship. 

If you’re interested in learning more about St. Paul’s Cursillo Program or would like to sign up for a weekend, please go to: stpaulscursillo.org/upcoming-events 

Angie-Lee Vazquez is currently the Pastoral Associate of Mary, Mother of the Church in East New York, Brooklyn, and a member of the St. Paul’s Cursillo Women’s Spiritual Team. 


A Faith Vocation Grows in Brooklyn By Sister Marie Mackey, CSJ

A novel that was required reading for students beginning in the 1940s was “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.

In it the character, Francie, loves her neighborhood and refers to a tree that is growing out of the concrete as the Tree of Heaven. As I celebrate my 25th jubilee as a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, I reflect on my blessings in this unique and wonderful Diocese of Brooklyn where my congregation was first planted on Sept. 1, 1856, at St. Mary’s on Maujer Street. 

My life in faith is a testament to my parents who raised me with a love for God and neighbor and the parish community of Nativity BVM and the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk who reinforced Gospel values and encouraged me in all of my endeavors. My Catholic education continued at The Mary Louis Academy and St. Joseph’s University (Brooklyn) where the Sisters of St. Joseph gave witness to a life of academic integrity, radical inclusivity, social justice, and a practical yet deep spiritual life. The seeds were planted and took root. 

Central to all of this was St. Paul’s Center, a diocesan-sponsored retreat house that focused on the Christian Awakening programs for high school students and young adults as well as the English-speaking Cursillo program. Following my Christian Awakening retreat, I was invited to be on Team and thus began a long-term engagement in mentoring young people in a life of faith. Even today, I credit my St. Paul’s community for helping me “keep the faith” for more than four decades. 

My roots in faith are deep. I have been nurtured, pruned, watered, and bathed in sunlight by countless mentors, colleagues, friends, and members of my CSJ community. Like a tree, I have weathered the seasons. Sometimes I am parched due to the heat of ministry, sometimes my leaves are falling off the branches. Yet, at other times, newness is budding and I am in full flower. Sometimes I feel strangled by obstacles that constrain me and at other times the obstacle is the way and I rise and push myself through the concrete sidewalk. 

Dramatic change has happened during these past 25 years, yet I stand and continue to grow alongside others in faith and service in the midst of this concrete jungle. 

In January 2021 my congregation supplied “seed money” to plant a new ministry for young adults to live and grow together in faith, service, and community. 

My “Tree of Heaven” has been the diocese and all those I have been privileged to minister with as colleagues, friends, family, and religious community. As for my vocation, I think St. Thérèse of Lisieux says it best: “As I was surrounded by such good examples, I naturally wished to imitate them.” 

Sister Marie Mackey, CSJ, serves as Director of CSJ Young Adult Ministry and adjunct faculty member in the Religious Studies Department at St. Joseph’s University. 


Seize the Moment By Rachel Devine Calantjis

Seize the Moment

 You greeted the day with your usual tunnel vision. Perhaps you had breakfast, got dressed, and darted out in a big rush to get to work. As you were driving to work, or perhaps walking to the train, your mind was on all the things you had to do that day. When you got to work you tackled those mounting emails, as you half greeted your colleagues. Nagging feelings of undone work pressured your entire day, until you buried your head into your work. And before you know it, the day is gone. And the next day is a repeat performance.

 Sure, you must make a living and plan your day, however, did you know you missed so much this morning in your hurried pace? You see you missed the magnificent, multi-color skyline outlined with the majestic artistry of God’s love. You see God put a rainbow in the sky for you. You also didn’t see the most amazing little cardinal sitting on the tree outside your home, which many say is a sign from someone you love who passed away. And you didn’t see that dime on the sidewalk, another sign. You also missed the stranger who gave you a smile, as you hurried on your way. You missed the incredible warmth of the sun on your face, as well as the daffodils that suddenly burst upon the earth in the early spring morning. You missed seeing the buds on the trees burst into magnolia blossoms, which is a gift from God. You missed seeing the grass rejuvenating back to life. And you didn’t see the most amazing oak tree and its leaves bursting with new life. You also missed the incredible feeling of oneness, that can only be accessed in the holy moment.

 You actually missed out on the moment, the very place where the power of God is in everything you do. You missed the opportunity to feel the amazing Spirit of God, that is all around you and in you. And you missed out on a very beautiful spring morning.

 Let’s stop, pause, smell the roses, because at the end of your life you will never lament that you should have spent more time working, rather, you will lament that you let the precious moments of life slip by in a hurried pace that society dictates to us. The reality is, you are in charge of your moments and also in charge of how you spend them. Seize the moment, grab onto this precious, holy, moment, it is the only one you have, because moments turn into days, days to years, years to decades and before long, many wasted moments are gone. Spend those moments with family, loved ones, children, friends, and yes with God in the magnificent nature He has created for all of us. If you will stop and seize the moment you will not only have the incredible Spirit of God before you, you will also discover the enormous Power within you, as it awakens like a spring morning.

 Rachel Devine Calantjis


Abandoning Ourselves to God By Lisa Brogan

Recently we had some work done at our house. Well, actually, a lot of hard, sweaty kind of work. The men that did it were relentless – I was so impressed with their focus and                    determination. I was speaking with the lead guy – a young, family man who we met years ago when he was working for a friend of ours, and who is now building a business of his own. I told him that I had confidence that he would be successful, because he works hard, has excellent skills, and is a kind, thoughtful person to deal with. His response? “These things are only possible when you have God.”

The next day I ran into a friend, an older gentleman who I see pretty frequently, but something about him was different. He looked more vibrant somehow, almost younger. I commented to him on how good he looked. He looked at me with pure gentleness in his eyes and said, “It’s all God . . . when we are willing to abandon ourselves to Him.”

I am filled with gratitude that my life has become one where I am surrounded by people like these men. People who recognize and appreciate God’s role in their lives. People humble enough to give Him all the credit, with no need to reserve any for themselves. People willing to say out loud, without fear of whatever kind of reaction they may receive, that they proudly walk with God. That they have abandoned themselves to Him.

That notion of total surrender, abandonment of self and the turning over my life to God, is not something that I have come to overnight, nor is it something that I do successfully every day.  And this is true, even in light of the fact that I have personal, undeniable experience of what happens when I do. After all, It was nothing short of complete surrender that allowed God to step in and save my life, draw me back from certain death at the hands of drugs and alcohol, and bring me into a world where people like you — the members of the Cursillo community, my fellow parishioners at church, the people I do service with in the community — live and prosper in the grace of God. I didn’t know this world existed. I could not have asked for a place in it, because I would not have had the words to describe something so outside my experience. Yet God brought me here anyway, because I let go, gave myself to Him completely, and trusted Him with the outcome. 

It is crazy, then, isn’t it, that I ever fail to live in that perfect state of surrender. But therein lies my humanity. I return to the battle with self, ego pushes in, and moments arise and take hold where I forget that “these things are only possible when you have God.” But then my contractor speaks the truth. My friend glows with the grace of God. In those moments, I think of St. Paul – so much of his writing resonates with me, but I think now of the part of his letter to the Philippians when he compares his past life to his new life in Christ, talks about a deep, heartfelt faith and love and, while acknowledging his own imperfections in his pursuit of perfect surrender, concludes that he has, indeed, “been taken possession of by Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8-14). He is in me. We are one. I abandon myself to Him, because it is inconceivable that I could ever be separated from Him. My life is in His hands. 

We are entering Ordinary Time in the liturgical cycle. It is not Advent nor Christmas time; it is not Lent nor Easter time – so it is Ordinary Time. In Ordinary Time we walk with Christ, listen to Him teach, learn what He wants from us – all so that we are equipped to conclude that we can, should and must abandon ourselves to Him and the way of life He sets out for us. Ordinary? I don’t think so. Here is wishing you all the most extraordinary of Ordinary Times this summer.  De Colores.


Men’s Cursillo Follow-Up — June 3, 2023, at Our Lady of Hope Church in Carle Place, NY By Rich Grillo

On Saturday, June 3rd, the Men’s Cursillo Follow-Up group gathered together at Our Lady of Hope Church in Carle Place, NY. Forty-three men were In attendance, including six new prospective candidates. Two of them handed in completed applications at the end of the session, and the others were going to check their calendars when they returned home.

Joe Amato spoke about Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in our lives. With challenging questions, our group discussions were deep and revealing about the Spirit within us. Some of the questions were: Are you open to God’s spirit in the world? Who in my life is in need of understanding? Am I fighting that understanding of him/her? Am I resisting a greater understanding of what God is calling me to? Am I open to the invitation that God is inviting me to?

Ending with a prayer, meditation, and a hands-on blessing in the Upper Church, all forty three men left with a renewed, or perhaps a new, sense of the God that dwells within.  

Twelve of the men gathered at Toskana Restaurant, content with pizza to end our event. Our next meeting will be on Saturday, September 30th.




Men’s Cursillo #234 — April 20-23, 2023, at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY By Tom Butler

What another amazing weekend. It just seems to me each weekend gets better and better. To see the works of our loving God is such an honor.

The power of 28 candidates is contagious and uplifting for everyone involved. To see the Spirit flowing from person to person, and being able to watch the hearts of others open up to the love of God, is a true blessing.

After the Penance Service, a priest approached me about my Reconciliation talk and thanked me for my honesty, and for sharing my story. It was Father’s first experience of the Penance Service at St. Paul’s and he was very moved by it.

We talked about the love and joy that was in the room. He said to me, “You are a wounded healer.” We talked a few more moments about how beautiful this part of the Cursillo truly is.

Then his words hit me.

Wounded Healer. What a great description of all of us who work the weekends. Those of us who have journeyed long, and have worked hard, to have that Life in God’s Friendship. 

We have taken the gift of our hurt, pain and brokenness and share it with others so that they can heal— and also share in that loving relationship with God our Father.

Wounded Healers. Such a great way to acknowledge who we are as people. That in our brokenness, we are able to move from our place of damage and go to a place of love and healing—from the Cross to rolling away the stone from the tomb.

For 31 years, I have been blessed to be on my journey with God. To have been broken and battered by life, only to be recreated by a loving God who wants to have a relationship with me, a sinner.

Wounded Healer. Such an amazing way to look at another human  being who is trying to help others along their journey. Such a humbling thought to be one of those broken people who gets to continue to be a part of these miraculous weekends. 

Wounded Healer. I am forever grateful to all the Wounded Healers who have helped me and who have journeyed with me. I am so   thankful that God has shared his amazing Grace with a sinner like me. And I hope that I may continue to be the Wounded Healer, that God has asked me to be.

Marriage Retreat Reflection By Catherine Skarulis Amato

I made my Cursillo as a young adult 44 years ago at St Paul’s Center when it was located on Humboldt St. in  Brooklyn. For me, as I know for many, my Christian Awakening changed my life and gave me the tools to grow closer to God every day. I remained active and met my dearest friends, including my husband Joe, through St. Paul’s, and so my marriage was destined for perfection, right? Wrong! Just like any other couple, our marriage has faced many challenges, and through hard work and the Grace of God we continue to grow together. I think every marriage starts out with good intentions. On our wedding day, we are so in love and so desirous and optimistic of sharing our lives together, and then life happens. The stress and worry that comes with our jobs, kids, extended family, finances or our health can make us forget the vow we took to put God first, and then each other, above everything else. It’s so easy to drift apart if we choose to weather the storms alone.

I am so grateful that St. Paul’s offers the annual Married Couples Retreat. Joe and I had made the retreat many years ago and, for whatever reason, dropped the ball on making it again. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit nudged us, and when Darlene and Mike McGovern invited us again to make the retreat, we agreed—and it was the best decision we had made for our marriage. We now make sure to block out the time in our calendar to make it annually.

This year’s theme was the Beatitudes, based on the book by John Bosio called, “Blessed is Marriage: A Guide to the Beatitudes for Catholic Couples.” What a weekend! From start to finish, the weekend was so powerful. We focused on four of the Beatitudes: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, Blessed are They that Mourn, Blessed are the Merciful, and Blessed are the Peacemakers. You can do a weekend just meditating on one, but we took the time for these four.

Whenever I considered the Beatitudes before, I thought of Jesus teaching the people how to treat our neighbors. I never contemplated before what the Beatitudes would mean to me in how I love and treat my husband. Do I recognize my poverty in Spirit? Am I self righteous with my husband? I need to recognize first, my need for God in my own life, to listen to God’s voice, to be aware of His mercy, and to see that we need each other in our marriage to bring us both closer to God. Blessed are they that Mourn. How do I deal with the crises in our lives? They can be the big things, or they can be the little mundane things. One of phrases that will stay with me is what we all know but sometimes forget, “The most important things in life AREN’T things.” How do I get through disappointments? Remembering that we can be both the giver and receiver of God’s gifts to each other, reminds me that by getting through the mourning process— we can find comfort. Before, my understanding of the Blessed are the Merciful Beatitude was doing service for others. It is easy for me to write a check for a charity, send food for someone who lost a loved one, donate clothes to the poor, or sponsor a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But how do I show mercy in my marriage? Do I have to be right all the time? Do I listen to my spouse or do I have to try and jump in and solve the problem when my spouse just wants to be heard? Showing mercy to my husband does not diminish me. If I take the focus off of myself then I can be compassionate to him, and in doing so, I allow him to experience God’s love. When Blessed are the Peacemakers comes to mind, I think of Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King. How am I a peacemaker in my marriage? Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to forgive when you have been hurt deeply. Do I truly forgive but really bury the hatchet and mark the spot with an “X?” Do I hold out and expect my husband to apologize first before I can let go of my anger and resentments? Forgiveness is not always about the big things, but being able to forgive can be a mindset. If I can have a heart with the attitude of forgiveness, it can only bless and strengthen our marriage. I loved the takeaway that forgiveness is not an attribute of the weak, but of the strong. The only way to know peace is to learn how to forgive.

We had a weekend filled with so much camaraderie, laughter, tears and fun. We were able to renew our marriage vows at a beautiful Saturday evening Mass and find each other anew in serving one another. We were so blessed to be with other couples who, like us, are not perfect but are looking to strengthen their marriages. Some are  married for just a few years and starting families, and others have children that are grown and out of the house, but all of us were there sharing our journeys and doing our best to live out our marriages with God’s Grace.


Welcome, Cursillistas from the #289!! By Ann Marie Dodd

On the weekend of November 3-6, 2022, nineteen women came to experience an Encounter with Christ! Thank you to our amazing community who keeps inviting women to have this incredible experience. 

I often hear from other Cursillistas that Jesus walks the halls of “St. Paul’s.” Well, that is as true now as it ever has been because He goes where we go and He walks the Cursillo with us during a weekend and every day, no matter where we are, no matter when. The Seminary in Huntington is a Holy Place – Jesus was truly present to us that weekend! 

A great team of women came to serve this weekend, some new, some seasoned, we are blessed to have so many faith-filled women on our team. Our new Rectora, Theresa McHugh, led the women throughout the weekend with a peaceful presence, gently guiding and keeping us on time. Our table team consisted of Cathy Klimar, Lorraine Kosinski, Anne Haffey, Rosemary Maikis, Silvia Madison and Donna Wendelken, our newest table team member. The Angel Team was led by Head Angel Christine Vigliette, along with Joanne Lauro, Fran Monaco, Norma Scally and Danielle Donaldson, our newest angel. Tracey O’Reilly was our Rectora in training and our Spiritual Team included Angie-Lee Vazquez, Lisa Brogan, Beth Barker and Darlene McGovern. What a powerhouse of incredible women who came to serve the weekend.

The community came out to provide a joyous welcome to our newest Cursillistas. It is always amazing to experience the energy in the room. Electrifying!! Their witness to the weekend was inspiring and uplifting to hear. If you were there, you know what I mean! If you weren’t, keep reading, we have some beautiful testimonials.

It’s truly an honor and a privilege to participate in a weekend. I’m always awed by all that happens throughout the weekend. Our God is so very good to us … All The Time. 

As we all hear at the end of each weekend – Christ is counting on us!  Please keep inviting men and women to deepen their relationship and friendship with God. We are all called to keep inviting, to reach out to someone who deserves a weekend. Who in your life deserves a Cursillo weekend?  DeColores!


Testimonials From the Woman of the #289

Here are some amazing testimonials from the woman of the #289:

 “I would like to say that the weekend was life-changing for me. It was the first time I ever really felt a true message coming to me from God. It also changed my mind set about my ability to have faith and to serve my community. In God and God’s love.”  – Nicole Moskowitz

 “God works in mysterious ways and at perfect times. I believe in my heart that this was the weekend God chose for me. I was with such an amazing team that shared such patience, selflessness, and kindness. My fellow candidates shared their most intimate struggles and triumphs. I felt such community. I heard and was shown exactly what I needed; God loves me unconditionally. I was absolutely blown away from the community’s prayers and notes written with such encouragement and sound advice. In this hectic world, someone took the time and prayers to dedicate to me. What a gift. Truly God’s love in action. The closing was so beautiful! I was so overwhelmed by the love & support of my family, friends, and the  Cursillo Community. I am just so grateful!!”  – Bridget Goldberg

 “From the moment I arrived for my Cursillo weekend I was so impressed! The women were so helpful, loving, and welcoming! I met the most wonderful group of women on my Cursillo. My goal for the weekend, to become closer to Jesus, Our Lord, was realized! His love is truly unconditional! Thank you, God, for bringing me to my Cursillo. Thank you, amazing women who put it, together and all the candidates. Thank you all for sharing your light.” – Debbie McLaughlin