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Show Me TheWay

A Short History of  Emmaus


The Walk To Emmaus comes out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo tradition. ln Spanish, the word “Cursillo” means a “little or short course”. The Emmaus Weekend is a short course in Christianity.


Cursillo had its origin in Majorca, an island off the cost of Spain, in the late 1940s.  After World War ll a Roman Catholic Bishop saw a deterioration of the Christian faith in his diocese. Along with some laymen, they developed this program to raise up leaders among the men of his parish. The first Cursillos were very penitential in nature, In fact, the team and pilgrims fasted for the full 72 hours of the retreat.


Cursillo came to the United States in 1956 when two Spanish Air Cadets came to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for flight training. There they met a Spanish priest who was also a Cursillista (which is one who has attended Cursillo.) At first Cursillos were held along the Mexican-American border and were only in Spanish. lt spread to other Spanish speaking communities before being translated into English. Cursillo has spread across the United States and many different denominations have adopted the program. Except for a very few areas, Cursillo is not ecumenical.


ln 1977, the Upper Room (an agency of the United Methodist Church) became interested in Cursillo. Two United Methodist models of Cursillo were sponsored in Peoria, Illinois which is one of the few ecumenical Cursillo centers.  ln 1981, in mutual agreement with the National Secretariat of the Roman Catholic Cursillo, the Upper Room Cursillo changed its name to the Walk to Emmaus.


The Walk to Emmaus has spread across the country – mostly in United Methodist Annual Conferences and also at least one Presbyterian Synod. “Walks to Emmaus” are held in Australia, Brazil, and around the world. Many “walks” called Kairos have been held in prisons around the United States. 

Journey with Christ and experience a Christian spiritual renewal.

The Walk to Emmaus is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.

The objective of Emmaus is to inspire, challenge, and equip  local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities and places of work.  Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others.

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