Faith in Action: Darlands’ Cursillo Prison Ministry

After Erin and Doug Darland recharged their faith by participating in a Cursillo weekend at Christ the King in Moline, they were invited to help facilitate a Cursillo at the Hill correctional facility in Galesburg through the Diocese of Peoria. This was not something they’d planned to do at all.  In fact, Erin barely remembered checking the little box for “prison ministry” on the volunteer opportunities form after their retreat.  So, she was surprised when she received a phone call asking for help.  Now, Doug and Erin are both so glad they stretched their comfort zone and said yes. Erin recalls, “As I think about it now, I really think it was God's intention to have me check that box to find out more information.”


So what exactly did they do? As a couple, the Darlands  helped the inmates with everything you ordinarily would do on a Cursillo weekend, except the cooking, and they were able to go home to sleep.  This was a powerfully positive experience for Erin and Doug. Erin explains, “During that weekend, I was able to see Jesus in these men that were serving time for some very horrible crimes.  We were all God's disciples, all learning together how to get closer to him - it was an amazing experience!  We prayed together, we attended Mass together, we listened to each other, and we learned from each other.” Doug says, “It was very eye opening to see how these guys have learned from their experiences and have come to know Jesus. Many of them are very well versed on the Bible and have a deep understanding of the Word of God.”


Erin was filled with the Holy Spirit and experienced it in powerful ways throughout the entire weekend. She shares, “There was an opportunity for spontaneous prayer together with our table and we held hands and we each prayed from our hearts.  I don't even remember what I prayed, because I truly felt God's words coming out of me. While I sat and listened to the inmates pray for me and my family, I was so humbled to be a part of something that God chose for all of us.  It is so awesome to see these men and their relationships with Jesus growing.  Now I am able to see God's plan for them, while they're here in this prison.”


Doug says it was a particularly meaningful service opportunity for him: “There's just something about the way the guys talk to you when you're there, shake your hand, and say ‘God bless you’ or ‘thank you for coming.’ You know that the guys see Jesus in you, and I truly believe it's having a positive impact on their behavior in prison.”  Erin adds, “Prisoners being disciples to other prisoners is an amazing thing to witness.  They’re just men being disciples to other men.”


Now that their Cursillo weekend is over, the Darlands continue to visit the prison once a month for reunions with the prisoners.  They were recently invited to give a talk at one of these reunions, which turned out to be another meaningful experience. Doug explains, “I look forward to these times of continuing our journey of faith with these men.  I was blown away by their strength and courage.  I left the prison energized and thankful for God's gifts, and I continue to be amazed by how God plan works in our lives. "


Would you like to get involved in Cursillo ministry like the

Darlands? You would first have to go through a Cursillo weekend and then get involved from there. The Darlands are happy to be part of both the CEW and Cursillo communities and would be happy to answer any of your questions on how they are alike and different.


For more information, contact Doug at [email protected],

or Erin at [email protected]