KAUKAUNA — People always talk about the big days in their lives. Julie Huss shares the typical ones most folks have, but she has one more. “Our wedding, the birth of our children and my Cursillo were huge, life-changing events.”
Huss has been a member of Holy Cross Parish since she was 9. She and her husband, Al, were married there 25 years ago. She started volunteering at Holy Cross School when her oldest child began 3-year-old preschool. “I did all the volunteer activities that come about with your kids being in a Catholic school.”
She’s been even more active in their parish. “Basically anything to do with the Mass, I help with all of it,” said Huss. She’s a cantor, lector, an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and serves on the Oktoberfest committee. She and her husband are a FOCCUS couple and they are involved with Christ Renews His Parish at Holy Cross. After being a volunteer with the Scrip program for years, last year Huss was offered a part-time job there as the Scrip coordinator.
Fifteen years ago, Huss and her husband went on a Marriage Encounter weekend and friends they met there encouraged them to make a Cursillo. She didn’t want to go if her husband didn’t go and after three years of invitations he finally went. Shortly afterwards, Huss gave up a Thanksgiving weekend to do the women’s Cursillo.
“The Cursillo builds on itself, every day there are talks by lay people and the ordained,” explained Huss. “Each talk builds on each other, laying on the foundation of your ideals. Everything is based off of that: where you spend your time, your money, your talent, your treasure. There are many talks about God’s habitual grace and then people weave their personal witness into that.”
Cursillo (Spanish for “short course” in Christianity) is based on the “tripod theory” of piety, study and action, said Huss. “You need to have those three. If one of those is off, your balance is off. It teaches you how to have these things in your life, it’s a gradual process. By Sunday they want to send you out the door to be aware of your environment and how you can adapt that into it.”
After her weekend was over, Huss knew she wanted to continue to be involved in the Cursillo movement. “Cursillo had a huge impact on my faith life. I am more aware of Christ’s presence in my daily life. I find that my prayer life is active all day throughout the day,” she said. “I have a desire to learn more about my faith and how to grow closer to God and Mary, and I want to share the joy and love I feel with everyone I know.”
Once a week Huss meets with other women from Cursillo as part of the “Fourth Day” program. “The fourth day is the rest of your life,” she noted. “We talk about our prayer life, where we’ve seen Christ’s presence in our week, what we’re doing in our studies to experience Christ through reading and nature and whatever, and what are we doing in our action: how are we bringing Christ’s presence to others and what our plan is for the following week.”
She and her husband also are in the “Group Reunion” program, where they meet once a month with people throughout the diocese who have done a Cursillo. These activities are optional but Huss is glad to be a part of them. “Anything that you put that much time and effort into, and if you had that great of an experience, why would you not want it to continue?” she said.
There’s also an opportunity to attend a once-a-month event called an Ultreya. “That’s where men and women come together, have an opening song and an opening prayer, then break into small groups and do group reunion,” said Huss. “Then we have one person who does a Bible reflection and another person will give a personal witness about how their life has changed since their Cursillo.”
Wanting to be even further involved, Huss has worked on a dozen different Cursillo teams through the years and she also holds the position of newsletter coordinator and mailing list coordinator for the secretariat, the governing body of Cursillo.
For Huss, attending a Cursillo was a tremendous growth experience for her faith, helping her to grow closer to Christ. “The one thing that everybody I’ve ever heard coming out of Cursillo is the overwhelming sense of God’s unconditional love. You feel so immersed in that. It’s just awesome.”
The Cursillo impacted not only Huss’ faith life but her family life as well.
“As a wife and mother, I pray for my husband and kids daily. We pray together at meals, Al and I read together at night, and frequently I tell our kids how we pray for them,” she explained. “A neat moment that we attribute to our growth in our faith was when our daughter was talking with a friend and he asked her what our family’s big deal was with church.”
Her daughter replied that everyone needs to have faith in their lives if they want to have stability and a good life.
“She also wrote us a beautiful note for our 25th anniversary about how we are such a great example of a true loving marriage and how we raised a true loving family,” added Huss.