Good morning! My name is Phil Lustig. I attended Gold Coast Cursillo #25 where I sat at the table of St. Peter. My wife, Peg, our two children - Dan, 19, and Jill, 18 - and I worship our Lord at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, Florida. I am the incoming lay director of the Gold Coast Community.
Would you please pray with me.
"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Oh God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen."
This morning we are going to look at Ultreyas. - We will examine:
What their purpose is.
Why we have them.
How our different secretariats "do" Ultreyas.
What seems to work & perhaps we can then focus on why it does.
Before getting into the meat of our talk, I should give you a little background. During the last year (subsequent to the last NLS meeting) a survey on Fourth Day activity was distributed.
When Randy Mullin asked for this workshop to be prepared, he forwarded copies of the responses to that survey along to us along with other background information. After my initial review of the information Randy had sent, I decided the only way I could logically look at, digest, and then give meaning to the raw data was to construct a small spread sheet. This gave me a good graphic view of what we as a national body do, as well as showing in an easy to digest format what each secretariat does. I have copies of that spreadsheet available. I have chosen to wait until after this presentation to pass them out as my experience in training tells me I would lose half of you right away if I handed it out now.
I. What this tries to demonstrate is that we don't all do it the same way, and that's all right. The purpose here is not to look at what one secretariat is doing, but to look at what works.
A couple of other parenthetical notes in passing:
First, Randy asked us not to do a "what-we-do" talk, and I hope I have been faithful to that request. Second, the majority of this was done on airplanes. I hope in my final review I have been able to take out the somewhat disjointed result of that process.
I should add that it occurred to me yesterday morning listening to Jeanne Davis the "coincidence" of the themes of the forums and the theme we here in Florida came up with for this conference. Our view on "unity of the body" had to do with first bringing together the seven Florida secretariats as a body. We also saw a great opportunity to bring the disparate parts of Via de Cristo from throughout the United States. The forums are on "4th Day Activities" - 4th Day activities are the glue that binds the parts of the body together - that helps to create unity of the body. At the outset, I said we would look at what the purpose of Ultreya is, why we have them, how different secretariats have Ultreyas, and what seems to work and perhaps why.
First - why we have them.
By the time we get to the point of being here at a National Lutheran secretariat meeting, I trust that we all realize the weekend is the means to getting people into post-Cursillo activities. E FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS OF THE CURSILLO MOVEMENT defines the post-Cursillo as "the communitarian means (groups, Ultreyas, etc.) Designed to increase and assist the conversion and Christian living initiated in the Cursillo...so that the individual and group restlessness aroused in the three days ultimately leaven with the Gospel spirit, the ecclesial and human community, and temporal structures in general." (You don't have to write that down)
Further THE LEADERS MANUAL points out that, "basically the aim of the post-Cursillo is to realize the vision that is presented on the three days...open up to each one the possibility of continuing this encounter of self, Christ, and one's brothers and sisters in an ongoing way. The immediate objective of the leaders of the post-Cursillo is to motivate and help the new Cursillistas to find a group of friends to whom they can commit themselves to form a Christian community. It is not the purpose of the post Via de Cristo to have people attend group reunions and Ultreyas in order to prove they are Cursillistas. Rather, it is the purpose of the post Via de Cristo to help Cursillistas to be the church, to live in and as the church in the structures of the world. There are two basic means of growth and perseverance in the Christian life in the post Via de Cristo: the group reunion, for the individual, and Ultreya for the community. Although both are community structures, one is primarily for the good of the individual, the other for the good of the community. Since one cannot be realized without the other, both are essential in terms of the method. If you remember, "an isolated Christian is a paralyzed Christian." So, too, is a group if it is not tied to other groups in a community as provided by Ultreya.
I know that this is a bit dry, but I want to set a stage for you and to get there we need to examine in a rather didactic way some of what causes us to do the things we do, and this examination is based on the study of the source material from the Catholic movement. I will admit that this is not the most thrilling reading! Further, quoting from the LEADERS MANUAL, "The Ultreya will be a community to the degree that the permanent friendship groups together form a commuity and are willing and able to draw new members into the living community. The Ultreya should give impetus to the groups in the environments. The permanent groups ought to give impetus to the individual, and both together should give impetus to the work of the evangelization in the world. The purpose of the Ultreya is ongoing formation, so that piety, study and action can be encouraged and evaluated. The purpose of the Ultreya is to foster the atmosphere of unity which Christian communities must have if they are to be dynamic and radiate their fervor and zeal.
We all recognize that the Cursillo is not "just a weekend" but that the purpose of the Cursillo is to develop for leaders a framework of community within which they can be supported by brothers and sisters in Christ, through group reunion. In much the same way, the Ultreya acts as a framework for groups to come rogether for mutual support. Ultreyas are a natural way for groups of reunion brothers or sisters to come together. The Ultreya is a means of unifying the Cursillistas into a movement.
How different secretariats "do" Ultreyas.
In planning and conducting the Ultreya, we should always keep in mind what is essential in it. Its dynamic and active character should always be remembered. We come to Ultreya to unite with our brothers and sisters to share with them. The lay leaders (rector/rectora) play a very iimportant role in the Ultreya. They will take care of the details of the Ultreya:
There are some universal elements of all Ultreyas. The format for Ultreyas lists a number of elements. Specifically they are:
At this time, I would like to hand out the spreadsheet I mentioned before so we can look together at what we as a national movement do at home in our own communities. As you will note on the handout we all seem to like to eat -- that is one thing we all seem to do. We also all have incorporated a lay or witness speaker in our interpretation of Ultreyas. I would like first to look at the lay speaker, what they should and shouldn't do and why they are on the program.
Witness speakers at the Ultreyas give witness to their growth in living union with Christ so that others may be encouraged to do likewise. Ultreya witness talks expose Cursillistas to a great variety of witnesses so they may encounter a broad range of possibilities for growth and action. The speaker should offer concrete examples of how to live what is fundamental for being a Christian in their environment. What the speaker should accomplish is sharing a practical way that should inspire others to follow the example or to imitate the actions of the speaker. A witness talk is by definition a talk delivered as a living experience of what the speaker is or believes. Hopefully, the speaker will be able to share something recent in their experience as a living example of how they are living their Fourth Day as learned during their weekend experience. The witness talk should not be an instruction nor an intellectual exercise, but a personal sharing of one's experience during their Fourth Day. The speaker should keep it short (this is not a rollo), simple and upbeat. It should also be balanced so that it is not:
The person giving the lay talk should be walking the walk as an example of the talk they are talking. When a person talks about what he or she is living, it is almost always told well.
If we turn to the spreadsheet we can see what we do in common, and what seems to work. If you will note the frequency of Ultreyas seems to have some variance but by and large we all seem to try and be in community at some place in our community at least once a month. Some of the larger states that have a single secretariat list a number of Ultreyas a month. Secretariats in states like Florida with a number of movements may only meet one time per month, but there are, between all the movements a number of chances to be in community during the month. There is one variation that is an annual event that I will come back to later with another handout. Some movements report that they do not meet during months when there is a weekend or weekends, as the community is already gathered in support of the weekend at the weekend site.
It appears that all of us also like to sing. We all report that we have music at our gatherings and I guess this is one way of us expressing our joy and of celebrating our joy in Christ and at being together in community.
We all like to eat. This is universal! Some have snacks, some have potluck, and some have coffee and dessert. We all eat! There are variations on how we deal with speakers. In all cases, there is some type of sharing. The largest area of diversityh is the participation of clergy in our Ultreyas. Solme movements have clergy do a counterpoint or responsive reflection of the lay talk. My sense was that we would all like to have this type of activity but that there is a problem with availability in many cases that keeps this from being a reality. Perhaps this is siply a reflection of the fact that we are a lay movement. The key to all this is to understand the fact that what we deal with is a part of a process. Ultreyas alone would be pointless. They are part of the entire Via de Cristo/Cursillo experience. If we remember what we are about we will be able to better
1) put on Ultreyas, 2) not stuggle with 4th day activities, and lastly be the support of the community that we are supposed to be. For people who are not familiar with the purpose and the process we really are about getting people who have been identified as leaders in their churches into a 4th day environment that will support them in their role as leader. The reunion group is the primary element in the 4th day, but the Ultreya is the"glue" that binds the larger community together. Ultreyas are in fact reunion groups for reunion groups. This may seem an oversiplification but this is the best simile I can come up with.
Before getting into group discussion I would like to spend just a moment or two speaking about two special types of Ultreyas that we in south Florida have been involved with over the last five years. At the outset of this talk, I mentioned that Randy had asked that this not be a "What we do" but there are some new and unique things you might want to consider taking home with you to give a try. One event is a regular Ultreya that is expanded and turned into a potluck dinner that welcomes new Cursillistas into the community. We hold these two times a year, after each "set" of weekends. The theme is to introduce the new graduates into the commuity. Usually two women and two men from the most recent weekend address the community about their Fourth Day. These are called reunion Ultreyas. In fact, Ben Troxell brought this concept back to us (from Arizona, I think) after a National Lutheran Secretariat meeting. We in Gold Coast feel into a small trap in that we suspended other Ultreya activity for a time in favor of the runion Ultreyas. The intent was never to replace the traditional Ultreya but to supplement it with the reunion Ultreya. The community felt some loss so now we are doing both.
The other unique event is one you may have heard something about before. This event has become known as the Rainbow Reunion. To understand my affinity with Rainbow Reunion, it is necessary for me to tell you a little about my background. To say the least it is somewhat eclectic. I grew up in a home with an agnostic father and a mother who was alternately an ethical culturalist, a Unitarian, or a Quaker. I did have Lutheran forebearers. My sister and I did go to Sunday school but I didn't start regular church attendance until I was in high school. At that time, I went to Sunday services at the Dutch Reformed Church, Methodist Church - during the week I attended worship services at the Friends meeting house as I was attending a Friends school.
In my senior year of high school, I started attending church with my girlfiend (later my 1st wife) at St. Patrick Catholic Church. In college, I attended Episcopal services as they were required. After I was married, I was exempted as I was again attending mass at the Catholic Church. Prior to my second marriage, I got involved with the local Lutheran church and during the time of that short lived union I split my time between Our Saviors Lutheran and First Dutch Reformed Church.
For the last 23 years, my church homes have been Lutheran. When I made my weekend I was thrilled, awed, and pleased by the variety at my table. The silent professor was a Presbyterian, the rollista was a Methodist, next to me on my right was a short red-headed Irish Catholic, Billy O'Niel, next to him was Greg from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, next was a Southern Baptist, then the rollista, next a Missouri Synod Lutheran, an ALC Lutheran (this was 1985), an Episcopalian and back to the silent professor. Perhaps now you understand my affinity to hte concept of Rainbow.
Rainbow -- it is a Grand Ultreya. A coming together of people from the Via de Cristo movement with their brothers and sisters in Christ from the Catholic Cursillo, Episcopal Cursillo, and Methodist Emmaus Walk. I have brought with me about 80 programs from this year's event. The Rainbow Reunion is based on the premise that "We shall do nothing that does not demonstrate our commonality in Christ." In this regard, out of sensitivity for the needs of each other we do not share communion at team meetings. Out of respect for the desires of our Catholic brothers, we cannot nor will we call Rainbow an Ultreya. We all know what is, and as the old saying goes, "if it waddles like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has feathers it probably isn't a dog. So whether we call the event an Ultreya or not, it really is one. At Rainbow Reunion #1 in February, 1990, we had really two separate events. We had a large picnic at a park in Boca Raton (box lunch) late in the afternoon. That evening we had more than 2300 people at the Florida Atlantic University auditorium for music, sharing, and a tlak from a guest speaker. At Rainbow #1, the speaker was Fr. Joseph Girzone. Rainbow #2 was held in April 1991. It and each subsequent Rainbow Reunion has been at the South Florida fairgrounds in West Palm Beach. At Rainbow #2, we had music from a praise band made up of people from each of the movements, and 4 guest speakers (a pastor or priest from each of the movements.) And, of course, food. We had a catered chicken dinner after the music and before the speakers. Rainbow #3 and #4 followed much the same format. At #3, the guest speaker was Fr. Terry Fullem. At #4, we had Lee Kaiser as a speaker and Michael Kelley Blanchard as an additional headliner. Rainbow #5 was somewhat scaled down with a local Pastor (Mickey Evans), a self-styled "Florida Redneck cowboy from Okechobee" who founded and runs Dunklin camp. This year was the first year that we did not go in the red. If any of you are interested in talking about this, we are willing to share our experiences with you. I know Bob Gerhardt will spend time with anyone who wants to discuss this as I will. Raw numbers are that we have had between 1300 and 1600 people at these events. It hasn't all been easy but the results have been fantastic.
Finally, at this time we will move into discussion groups. We might wish to consider what works for us and what we might learn from others about what they do and how they do it.
I would like to thank you for your attention and thank Randy for allowing me
that chance to share with you. God loves you and so do I.