What is Via de Cristo?
Via de Cristo is a three-day leadership school with a New Testament look at Christianity as a lifestyle. Via de Cristo is a highly structured weekend designed to strengthen and renew the faith of Christian people, and through them, their families, churches, and the environment in which they live and work. Via de Cristo acknoleges the diversity of gifts among God's people, but does not identify itself as a charismatic movement. Via de Cristo is a united effort of laity and clergy to aid congregations in developing Christian leaders to more effectively serve Christ in the church.
The objective of Via de Cristo
The heart of Via de Cristo is the Gospel of Christ - to lead Christians toward a more complete understanding of what it means to live a life of grace, which gives new power and vitality in their lives. The objective of Via de Cristo is to give Christians a new understanding of their mission in the world: to become leaders of Christian renewal by living a life of grace using all the means of grace together with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Via de Cristo does not offer anything "new" - just a simple method through which people can live their lives filled with grace.
History of Via de Cristo
The movement originated on the island of Malloca as "Cursillo de Cristiandad" (short course in Christianity) in the late 1940’s in the Spanish Roman Catholic Church and moved to the United States in the late 1950’s. It began in the Lutheran church when lay people and clergy attended a Catholic Cursillo in 1971 in Iowa and in Florida. The first Lutheran sponsored weekends were held the following year in both Iowa and Florida and have been held all across the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
The name Via de Cristo was adopted by the Lutheran Community in 1986 and by the Indiana Lutheran Community in 1988. Some other denominations offering weekends include Episcopalians, Brethren, Methodists, and Presbyterians with weekend names such as: The Great Banquet, Way of Christ, and Emmaus Walk.
The first Via de Cristo weekend was held in august 2002 with the help of brothers and sisters from Indiana's community. In 2006 our community together with Indiana helped to start Swedish Via de Cristo.
Who Should Attend?
Via de Cristo is intended for lay people from all walks of life as well as for pastors. Good candidates for a Via de Cristo weekend are people living strong and active lives in Christ and those who are seeking renewal and strengthening in their relationship with Christ and persons around them.
There are separate weekends for men and women. In the case of married individuals, the husband attends first. The Via de Cristo is not structured to solve one’s deep-seated personal problems. It is designed to provide to those attending a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
What Happens on a Weekend?
The Via de Cristo weekend begins on a Thursday evening and ends on the following Sunday evening. During the weekend, you will attend morning and evening chapel services and celebrate communion, pray, sing, enjoy fellowship, eat delicious food, make new friends, and discuss talks given by laity and clergy.
The talks center on the grace of God, the reality of grace to others. The topics of the talks are: Ideals, Grace, Laity, Grace in Action, Piety, Study, Sacraments, Apostolic Action, Obstacles to Grace, Leaders, Environment, Life in Grace, Christian Community in Action, and Total Security in the Fourth day.
Each participant experiences the weekend a little differently but all have the opportunity to deepen their relationship of Jesus Christ.
What Happens After the Weekend?
You may attend a Via de Cristo weekend only once but you are invited to build on it for the rest of your life. This period after the weekend is known as the "Fourth Day." You are asked to do two things during your Fourth Day: 1) Expand your inner spiritual life through study and church participation; and 2) Become a more active Christian in your daily life.
The Fourth Day community stresses two means of perseverance: Group reunion - a small group of two to five friends who meet together weekly to reflect on their spiritual growth and to encourage each other in discipleship. Ultreya - a meeting of the larger Via de Cristo community on a regular basis. The group enjoys fellowship, worship with communion, singing, sharing and of course a great meal.
We urge you to participate in these two activities because they will help you remain strong in your faith and commitment to serve God.
Summary and Next Steps
We ask that you give prayerful consideration for attending a Via de Cristo leadership weekend. Please keep an open mind and heart as you make your decision. Many who have attended also wondered if they should go. Now that they have attended, they want to share this wonderful gift from God with you.
If you have questions please visit the FAQ page. If you would like more information, please contact a Secretariat member. For applications to print & send, or to fill out online click the applications in the forms section.
Short timeline of events
- First Cursillo1949The first Cursillo weekend takes place on the island of Malloca, Spain.
- Cursillo comes to the US1957The first Cursillo weekend takes place in Texas.
- National Lutheran Secretariat is formed1981Seperate Lutheran secretariats from several states form a National Lutheran Secretariat to oversee the movement in the US.
- First Cursillo in Indiana1984The first Lutheran Curisillo weekend take place in Indiana.
- From Cursillo to Via de Cristo1988Following the advice of the National Secretariat Indiana's secretariat changes the name from "Curisillo" to "Via de Cristo".
- First Via de Cristo in Latvia2002With the help of Indiana's secretariat the first Via de Cristo weekend takes place in Burtnieki.
- First Swedish Via de Cristo2006Latvia's VdC helps start a Via de Cristo movement in Sweden. The weekend takes place in Burtnieki. Three weekends are held in Latvia. From 2011 the weekends are held in Sweden.
- First Via de Cristo in Western Latvia2015The first Via de Cristo weekend takes place in Mazirbe's Retreat Centre.
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