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Biography of Eduardo Bonnín Aguiló

Eduardo Bonnin

Founder of the Cursillos in Christianity


Eduardo Bonnin Aguiló was born in Palma de Mallorca on May 4th. 1917 at his family’s residence - where "Bar Niza" is located today. He was born into a Catholic family engaged in retail and wholesale commerce and export of grains and dried fruit. He was the second of 10 children born to Fernando Bonnín Piña and Mercedes Aguiló Forteza.

His primary schools were at the French School, at "La Salle College", and his intellectual formation took place with the Augustinian Fathers, and chiefly with private lessons at home with teachers employed by his parents.

Eduardo said that the first teacher he had in his life was his grandfather Jorge. It was he who instilled a love of reading in Eduardo. Eduardo was convinced that: "nothing influenced me as much as my stubborn and ever-growing interest in reading."

In 1936, he had a decisive experience in his life: the obligatory military service far from home. Two conflicting sources of knowledge came simultaneously into his life: reality, through direct contact with the coarse military men, and idealism, through his books.

Providentially, Eduardo obtained the text of a speech that Pius XII had given to parish priests and parishioners in Rome. It was on February 6th, 1940. The Holy Father encouraged them to seek "new" paths, different from the same old ones, to make everyone realize the love of God, especially those far away.

Three principles had now become the basic guidelines of Eduardo’s thinking: the love of God, friendship, and the person, especially those far away.

In 1943 at the Shrine of Lluch, Eduardo participated in the second "Course for 'Pilgrim Leaders' organized by the National Council of Catholic Action to encourage young people to participate in a National Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He saw that the message was good, but those who presented the message seemed very boring to him and he said it all had to be Eduardo Bonnin Aguiló was born in Palma de Mallorca on May 4th. 1917 at his family’s residence - where "Bar Niza" is located today. He was born into a Catholic family engaged in retail and wholesale commerce and export of grains and dried fruit. He was the second of 10 children born to Fernando Bonnín Piña and Mercedes Aguiló Forteza.

His primary schools were at the French School, at “La Salle College”, and his intellectual formation took place with the Augustinian Fathers, and chiefly with private lessons at home with teachers employed by his parents.

Eduardo said that the first teacher he had in his life was his grandfather Jorge. It was he who instilled a love of reading in Eduardo. Eduardo was convinced that: "nothing influenced me as much as my stubborn and ever-growing interest in reading."

In 1936, he had a decisive experience in his life: the obligatory military service far from home. Two conflicting sources of knowledge came simultaneously into his life: reality, through direct contact with the coarse military men, and idealism, through his books.

Providentially, Eduardo obtained the text of a speech that Pius XII had given to parish priests and parishioners in Rome. It was on February 6th, 1940. The Holy Father encouraged them to seek "new" paths, different from the same old ones, to make everyone realize the love of God, especially those far away.

Three principles had now become the basic guidelines of Eduardo’s thinking: the love of God, friendship, and the person, especially those far away.

In 1943 at the Shrine of Lluch, Eduardo participated in the second "Course for 'Pilgrim Leaders' organized by the National Council of Catholic Action to encourage young people to participate in a National Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He saw that the message was good, but those who presented the message seemed very boring to him and he said it all had to be enlivened and made more attractive. They had to prepare the participants not just for the Pilgrimage to Santiago but for life.

The pivotal moment in the genesis of Cursillos in Christianity is the phase immediately after Easter 1943, when Eduardo relates his experience at the Workshop for Pilgrims to his deepest personal concerns and his experience as a Christian catalyst for unchristian environments. He came to the conclusion that something both similar and different from that Workshop for Pilgrim Leaders could revitalize in a Christian way, not only a specific event, such as the Pilgrimage to Santiago, but also normal, everyday life in real and concrete environments.

This concern gave rise to a text outline - "Study of the Environment" - which Eduardo drew up that year, 1943, and which he explained in public for the first time in the Diocesan Seminary of Mallorca.

In this climate, and trying to put his outline "Study of the Environment" into reality, Eduardo – drawing from his experience from the workshop for Pilgrim Leaders - thought out and developed a complete method that would serve as a catalyst for fermenting "distant" people and environments with Christian life, and also to revitalize in a deep way those who were already closer.

Perhaps the turning point in Eduardo’s attitude was marked by an intervention he made in 1944 at the "School of Propagandists." At the invitation of its Director, Father Sebastian Gaya, Eduardo explained the outline he had prepared as the final theme of "his" method. - "Cursillistas beyond the Cursillo weekend."

The first Cursillo weekend was held according to Eduardo’s outlines, in a chalet in Cala Figuera de Santanyi, Mallorca, August 20-23, 1944. The Spiritual Director of this first Cursillo weekend in history was the Reverend Father Juan Juliá, the "Rector" was Eduardo Bonnin and the leaders were Jaime Riutord and Jose Ferragut.

That meeting had already all the essential elements of a Cursillo-in-Christianity weekend, with the exception of the first and the last presentations, which would not settle permanently into the method until the late 50s.

Eduardo has often said that from this weekend in Cala Figurera on, in all other Cursillo weekends, he has kept using the same outlines, essentially the same notes and with this emphasis he wanted to certify that this first weekend was an entirely genuine Cursillo weekend.

The second weekend of the Cursillo in Christianity (although at that time they were only called simply Cursillos) took place in the Sanctuary of San Salvador in Felanitx, also in the south of the island, like the first one. It was held in September 1946. Father Juan Juliá acted as Spiritual Director again; the rector was Eduardo Bonnin himself, and the leaders were Antonio Ruiz and Guillermo Estarellas, two youth leaders from “Catholic Action”.

At the closing ceremony of the weekend in 1946, the Diocesan Chaplain, Father Dameto, was already present, which was undoubtedly the first boost that the Diocesan Church, as such, gave to the new method.

The third weekend in history was held April 16-20, 1947. The spiritual director was Father José Estelrich; Eduardo Bonnin was the rector and there was only one leader, Jose Segui.

In 1948 there were two weekends held following the new method, and on dates close together. The first one took place at Easter, and Father Amengual led the "spiritual retreat" and the spiritual director was Father Bartolome Nicolau, while the rector was José Ferragut. The team of leaders was composed of Eduardo Bonnin, Bartolomé Riutort and Juan Mir.

The next weekend was held in April, 1948, under the shared spiritual direction of Father José Estelrich and Father Miquel Sastre, and the rector was again Eduardo Bonnin. The leaders were Onofre Arbona and Antonio Salva

The Cursillo Movement weekends began in August 1944 but they were formalized and assigned a number as of the weekend held January 7-10, 1949.

This "Weekend No.1" had Father Guillermo Payeras as the Spiritual Director and the Rector was Eduardo Bonnin. History shows that from 1949 on there was an acceleration in the number of weekends which forced Eduardo to think in depth again, so that the flow and the number of new cursillistas would not prevent the sedimentation of these new groups of friends, which Eduardo already considered from 1944, as the gist of the Postcursillo. This in-depth analysis and reflection brought about, almost immediately, the methodological design of the Group Reunion.

The 1949 annual meeting of the Youth Branch of Catholic Action, held in November, included a presentation on Groups, which definitively settled the question, incorporating the weekly Group Reunion as a specific and essential element of the method.

The seed of Cursillo has multiplied around the world and Eduardo has gone after it, fertilizing and fermenting the environments in which it is destined to grow. "I have no odometer on my feet" is something that Eduardo liked to say to avoid reviewing the international itinerary of his life and to wriggle out of the attention that having proclaimed the Gospel brought to him. Eduardo was in China three times. In 1966 he travelled to Brazil, New York and Peru. In 1967 he went to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Miami, and he also participated in the third Mexican Leaders’ National Conference. In May 1968 he attended the Ultreya in Fatima, Portugal. In 1998, after a decade, he returned to Chile and he went all the way to Tuvulú, Santiago, Valparaiso and Termuco. During this year, he also travelled to Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, and he was in Ravenna and Padua. In 1992 he visited Canada for the first time and gave his great explanation of Cursillo – Evangelization through Conversion.

In all five continents there is proof of the ferment produced by this seed. After a lifetime devoted to loving God and people, he was always happy but never satisfied, as he used to say.

On February 6, 2008 Eduardo died at age 90. He was buried in the church of the Capuchins, in Palma de Mallorca, and on his gravestone it reads what he always said he was: An Apprentice Christian.

On February 5, 2015 the Bishop of Mallorca announced the first steps in the cause of canonization and beatification of Eduardo Bonnin. This occurs just seven years after his death Feb. 6, 2008 at age 90.


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