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School of Leaders – March 2017

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Christian Leaders

My term as chairperson of the School of Leaders has come to an end. Before I introduce the new chairperson, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all you have done to inspire me during the past three years. I have truly come to know and better understand that we are all Christian Leaders, and that through using our love for God along with our talents, walking in the footsteps of Jesus really does influence others.

As Matthew Kelly has stated, “Christianity is a billboard campaign. You and I, we are the billboards. He sends us out into the world to send a message to the world. The question becomes, what’s on your billboard? Catholic & miserable? Catholic & surviving? Catholic & thriving? or, dynamic Catholic living an extraordinary life & thriving? What message is on your billboard? Everyone you encounter every day gets the message on your billboard.”

Our Catholic faith is a public thing. It is not meant to be left behind when we leave home. The duty of all of us as Christians is to take part in the life of the Church. We are urged to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. Jesus Christ wants us to bring the whole world to the truth, and the truth is Jesus himself, who is, “The way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6).

As Christian Leaders, we must have the will to be like Christ and lead others to Christ. And not be like the young man in Matthew 19:16, who walks away from Christ when he hears about what he must give up in order to follow Christ more completely. We must have determination and perseverance in our journey. It will not be easy, but acceptance of our efforts, no matter the outcome, is summed up by Robert Louis Stevenson when he said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”

It’s now time to introduce John Schaberg, who has accepted the role as Chairperson of the School of Leaders for the next three-year term. Many of you know John, but for those of you who have not met him, he made his Cursillo Weekend in 2010 at Men’s Cursillo #30, and he sat at the Table of Saint Giuseppe Moscati. John has previously served in the capacity of Secretary to the Secretariat. Now he again serves on the Secretariat as the Chairperson for the School of Leaders. I know John will be a great leader in his new role. May God be with you and guide you, John, as you begin your new journey.

As always, everyone is invited to attend the School of Leaders meetings. They are currently held on the second Tuesday of each month at St Joseph’s School in Freeburg. The start time for each meeting is 7 p.m. Don’t let the name School of Leaders deter you from attending because we need to remember, we are all, “Leaders in Christianity,” those of us willing to step out of our comfort zones, as well as those who work behind the scenes. We are all needed to evangelize those we encounter. As Christian Leaders, we need to go and make a difference.

Some Final Thoughts: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell

Terry Kostel,

Lay Director – March 2017

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Dear Brother & Sister Cursillistas,

I am proud to inform you that the Women’s and Men’s Cursillo Weekends have been completed and that Sharon Gugliotta and Steve Schaefer did a marvelous job for you all. We have 12 new women and 9 new men in our 4th day community. Their teams did outstanding jobs in all respects.

The Secretariat’s efforts to reorganize Cursillo within the diocese continues, but sorrowfully with little progress. We need volunteers from each parish to step forth and be your parish’s representative – please contact me at 618-213-6391.

May your Lenten journey bring you into a closer walk with our risen Lord, Jesus.

God Bless, Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – March 2017

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To the Members of the Belleville Diocesan Cursillo Community:

For the past several years, it has been my good fortune and honor to serve as the Spiritual Director for the Diocesan Secretariat. As I write this, I just received notification that Bishop Braxton has appointed Deacon Wayne Weiler as the new Spiritual Director. I wish Deacon Weiler success and good fortune in this endeavor and promise him, the Secretariat, and the Cursillo Community my continued prayer for the success of bringing friends to Christ.

As we prepare to celebrate the great feast of Easter, may we all take some time and remember that we have all been baptized into Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. May we strive and work to bring peace, mercy, and love to all of our communities.

Again, I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to all the members of the Belleville Diocesan Cursillo community for their prayer and support over these past years, especially the good people with whom I served on the Diocesan Secretariat.

May God bless and keep all of you close to His heart and grant you His love and peace.

De Colores,

Fr. Gary

School of Leaders – December 2016

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Our Life Defined

Covetousness, as it is referred to in some Bible scripture, can cause us to make choices and decisions that we normally wouldn’t make if we were to look at things through the eyes of common sense.  But because of all of the subliminal marketing messages, our brains have been trained to think a certain way, and we make most choices without thinking much about them.

There’s no doubt that we live in a materialistic world; it’s all around us, no matter where we look.  The world is in one awful mess.   Our culture has created this mess…it’s too busy, it’s too noisy, there is too much going on in our lives.  The reality is, it is affecting our lifestyle.

As a result, what’s happening causes us to get distracted from our relationship with God to the point that the world itself starts to become our priority.  After all, God made some pretty cool stuff for our enjoyment.  Even He said it was all “very good,” back in the Book of Genesis (1:31).  The problem is that all too often the pleasures of this world have our full attention.  For most people there’s no room for anything else.  This is the difficult situation in which Christianity now finds itself.  The things of God are nowhere near the forefront of most people’s minds.

It’s important that we not let all that we desire distract us from our walk with God.   As Matthew (16:26) says, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”  Not a single thing here on earth will profit us in lieu of securing our eternity in heaven.

The Gospel of Matthew (6:19-21) states, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

So many times we’re not satisfied unless we’re constantly getting bigger and better things.  We buy homes that have more room than we know what to do with.  Or we keep adding on and/or improving them so they feature the newest and best in amenities.  And the cars we drive get more and more expensive, sporting the newest in luxuries, the fastest engines or the latest and greatest in technology.

With all that we have or can have, there seems to be this discontent in our lives.  And as we become more discontent, we spend more time and effort pursuing things, instead of pursuing God.  But God warns us about this in Deuteronomy (5:21), “Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife.  Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

As Hebrews (13:5) tells us; “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for He has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.”

Bottom line: How is your life defined?  I was struck by this question as it was posed to us in a recent Homily.  Something to meditate on – Is it defined by the 3 P’s – Pride, Possessions, and Power, or by the 3 T’s – Time, Talent, and Treasure?

Lay Director – December 2016

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Dear Sister and Brother Cursillistas,

The fall harvest is being gathered into the barns and silos. How are we doing as far as our harvest for the Lord? So far we have two women and one man candidate for the 2017 weekends. Christ is counting on you – His hands, feet and voice in your parishes and social environments. Let’s get out there and make a new friend, be a true friend, and bring this friend into the loving arms of our Lord.

Your Secretariat is in need of volunteers to help with our reorganization efforts. We need people willing to be parish representatives in all parishes of the diocese. These people would be posting Cursillo info into their parish bulletins and stocking the parish information racks with pamphlets, updating our mailing list of known Cursillistas in their parish or area, and other work as necessary to broadly advertise Cursillo.

Having recently spent a day in full “Thanksgiving” to our God of Love, let us remember all those less fortunate then us, those without families, those serving us who cannot be with their families and those who are too sick to participate in this celebration.

May your Advent days be a complete blessing to you and all your loved ones.

Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – December 2016

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As we prepare to bring to a close our liturgical year (Feast of Christ the King) and begin a new one (First Sunday of Advent), we find the readings pointing us to the end times. These remind us of the frailty of human life; we all will, at some time, transition to a new way of living in a kingdom that will last forever.

Jesus made it very clear that the only one to know when life will end is the Father and he did not even share that information with the Son. So, what do we do during this time of waiting?  That is the important question of the Advent Season, how do we wait? Recalling the anticipation of our Hebrew ancestors, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Church challenges us to use this Advent as a time to learn patience as we await the celebration of Christmas.

This is a tough call as we are already celebrating christmas (using small “c” as it has NOTHING to do with the birth of Christ). Advertisements are already using the theme of “Black Friday” the customary day after Thanksgiving when the christmas shopping season begins. Decorations, gift ideas and the like are already being pushed in stores and catalogs and it has begun this year BEFORE Thanksgiving! (As I write this I have in the last two weeks received about a dozen catalogs suggesting what I need to buy to give as christmas gifts.)

Why are we in such a hurry? A sad commentary is that even in Catholic realms, this rush to the season is a reality. The beauty of the Advent Season, is the call to be patient, to wait, to be a people of anticipation. We rush through our lives, often at break-neck speed, failing to pause and wait, to reflect and rejoice on the giftedness we have been given. What will we gain by being in such a hurry? Will the anticipated celebration be better because we got there so quickly? Or, will it have more meaning if a period of anticipation allows us to better understand the beauty of what we are preparing to celebrate? Please, take some time this Advent, to truly celebrate it, stepping back, slowing down and reflecting on the anticipated birth of our Savior and Redeemer.

One other thought…  We have just finished one of the most contentious election seasons I can recall in my voting life. Pray that the partisanship that so defined this election cycle can and will be replaced with an attitude that gives rise to conciliation and compromise.

I pray that your Thanksgiving was a time to reflect and give thanks for family, friends and the blessings you have received.

May this Advent teach you the beauty of anticipation and waiting, and may the coming of the Word made flesh that dwelt among us, bless you with happiness and peace in the coming New Year.

With prayers and love,

De Colores,

Fr. Gary