The Three Days (Tres Dias) had it’s beginnings in the turmoil and destruction of civil warfare and the Second World War, which left Spain with empty churches and a sense of aimlessness and diminished dreams. Late in the 1940’s, a sense of revival was stirring within the Roman Catholic Church. Small group of of friends in various Catholic action groups began to share their faith regularly to help one another. Pilgrimages were organized whereby men and women could rededicate their lives toward Christian ideals. Bishop Juan Hervas, who was active in action groups and renewal activities with the men on the island of Majorca, and Eduardo Bonin who was involved with re-organizing pilgrimages, met through these sharing groups. They began to see how the church could benefit and the lives of people could be changed through studying and sharing their lives in Christ.
With a broadening vision of what these small Reunion Groups could accomplish, weekly meetings produced periodic retreats where the reality of living a Christian life was intensively taught and experienced through support of the Reunion Groups. These retreats became known as Cursillos de Christiandad, which means “short courses in Christianity.” Originally, the retreats grew out of the Reunion Groups!
At first, Cursillos were open only to men. After the tragedy of war in Spain, the Catholic Church was composed of few men. Since the objective was to revitalize the church, this meant bringing men back into the activities of the church.
The Cursillo movement was confined to Spain until the late 1950’s when a group of men from the Spanish Air Force who were training in Texas and in a share group, conducted the first Cursillo in the United States. The movement began to spread across the United States among Spanish-speaking people. The first English-speaking Cursillo was not held until the early 1960’s.
When Protestants began attending weekends, Roman Catholics saw the need to make the experience available to Protestants which led to the development of the inter-denominational Tres Dias Movement, leading to the following timeline:
- November 2-5, 1972: The first Tres Dias weekend was held in Newburgh, NY (at the Oblate House — the same location where Mid-Hudson weekends were held until 2001 when the Oblate House was sold and later demolished!). Dave McManigal, a Protestant who had attended a Roman Catholic Cursillo and who was led to be instrumental in forming Tres Dias, was the first Rector. Others involved in starting Tres Dias were Helmut Maier and Bob and Mary Essert.
- From there Tres Dias spread into New England, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The earliest communities were Pittsburgh, Fairfield County (Ct), Northern New Jersey, Long Island, Maine, Central Connecticut, New Hampshire and South Hudson.
- Spring, 1979: With the encouragement of the Mid-Hudson Secretariat, John McKinney formed an ad hoc “National” Secretariat with Jim Thornley, Anton Wellbrock, Gerry Hoernes, and Bob Decker. That group produced initial drafts of a “National” Constitution and “Essentials of Tres Dias”. All other communities were invited to participate and refine the drafts.
- July 11, 1980: The Constitution and Essentials were ratified and adopted in Poughkeepsie, NY by all of the participating communities. The secretariats of the communities were chartered as local secretariats. John McKinney was the first president. Subsequently, Tres Dias was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in New York state.
- 1985: Tres Dias became “International” when communities were chartered in Korea and Germany.
As of 2020, there were 98 chartered Tres Dias communities worldwide, with 20 additional communities in various stages of the chartering process. The International Secretariat, which serves as the Board of Directors of Tres Dias, meets three times per year. In addition, there is an annual meeting of all Secretariats (The Assembly) each July. For more information on the worldwide aspects of Tres Dias, go to the international Tres Dias website at www.tresdias.org.
Tres Dias is unique in that it is a Christian experience open to all who are in agreement with the Statement of Belief and who desire a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Tres Dias is not sponsored by any single Christian denomination.