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National Ultreya, Chester Cathedral.

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Saturday 31st August saw over 350 Cursillistas from all corners of the UK gather in Chester Cathedral for the BACC National Ultreya 2019.

The event was hosted by Chester Cursillo whose 4th Day Community worked tirelessly throughout the day to make sure that their visitors had a memorable day.

Members of the BACC Standing Committee had gathered the previous day for their meeting in the afternoon so from Thursday evening, Cursillistas had been on the road to be ready for their meeting. Many more had travelled on Friday afternoon and even more started early on Saturday morning.

The Cathedral was the venue for the entire day and members of Chester Cursillo were at work early registering visitors as they arrived whilst the Cathedral catering staff dispensed drinks and refreshments. After a period when old friendships were renewed and new ones forged, the gathered throng made their way to the nave for the welcoming remarks. A feature of this year’s National was an invitation from BACC to senior representatives of Kairos Prisons Ministries, (which is based on the Cursillo model) and so the witness talk by Ian Whitlam, featured experiences of the work that Kairos has done in Britain and Ireland. Ian described some of the constraints placed on staff during their week long programme by the needs of security in prisons but also the rewards of seeing some of the most hardened criminals turning to Christ and realising that they need to turn to Him for true forgiveness. Following a response by Revd Stephen Bowring, National Spiritual Director, a fuller description of the work of Kairos was presented by representatives of Kairos Prison Ministries.

The morning session was completed by presentations about the forthcoming BACC Pilgrimage to Canterbury and the sites of Christian significance in Kent and the BACC National Ultreya 2020 which will take place on Saturday 5th September 2020 and will be hosted as a joint effort by London & Southwark Cursillos.

The Banner Parade formed up in front of Chester City Hall whilst the clouds cried tears of joy upon the banner bearers and escorts alike. Lead by the City of Chester Brass Band the walk of witness threaded its way through the medieval centre of the City before returning to the cathedral.

The afternoon session started with Floating Group Reunions and continued with a Banner Parade introducing the Eucharist which was presided over by the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster. Bishop Peter is himself a Cursillista and drew on his experiences of his 4th Day journey to remind us of our own Cursillo promise.

As is traditional following communion Bishop Peter thanked Chester Cursillo for their hard work in preparing for the NU in 2019 and then commissioned the team from both London & Southwark as they take up their responsibilities for NU 2020.

(Left) Bronze statue of Baby Elephant close to where the Banner Parade formed up.

(Right) The Banner parade begins to form up ready to enter the cathedral during the gathering hymn for the Eucharist.

(Left) The Norwich Banner bearer and escort waiting to process.

It is quite exiting to think that next year Norwich Cursillo will be commissioned to host the National Ultreya in 2021.

All in all a good day was had by all.

Bill Rout.

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