On Friday, September 29th, we celebrated the return of Kairos 102. Kairos, “God’s time” in Greek, is a three day retreat offered to Canisius juniors. It is focused on the Jesuit idea of discernment. Discernment is a process that involves stepping back from one’s everyday life and examining what is going on around us. The process focuses on three main questions: Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going? Due to this focus, Kairos is a challenging, spiritual time that pushes students to not only start to understand themselves, but their connection with God and the larger human community both here at Canisius and beyond.
The use of Kairos as a retreat first originated in Spanish Jesuit schools in the 1970s and only arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s. In conjunction with McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, Canisius High School held Kairos 1 in 1998. Over 100 Kairos retreats later, the program is still going strong. Today, Canisius' Kairos retreats are lead and attended solely by Canisius students and faculty. The program has also moved a few times, starting first at a home in Silver Lake, New York before moving to its present facility at Cradle Beach, a summer camp for children with mental and physical disabilities nestled along the coast of Lake Erie.
The Kairos retreat focuses on each student, helping him come to terms with his relationship with God and the outside world. Since I participated on Kairos as a student and served on 102 as a leader, I can say that there is nothing magical about Kairos. We reach this goal by participating in normal, everyday experiences. Students talk and get to know each other, they play catch on the beach underneath a sunset, skip rocks, play four square, and share meals together. They form friendships and bonds which can last a lifetime as they learn to be more accepting of each other. Though it can be an emotional time for some, as a community, the retreatants learn to come together in support. They push each other forward, facilitating spiritual and personal growth.
The Kairos retreat can certainly be the high point of a student’s experience, but it is only one part of the retreat experience Canisius offers. Following the mandatory Freshmen Retreat, students have the option of engaging with the two day Emmaus retreat in their second year. Kairos, again, is for juniors, and acts as a prerequisite for the Companions immersion service program, which places interested students around the country, or overseas, to work for a week among people who may be marginalized in society. Lastly, for seniors, Canisius offers a couple of retreat choices -- a Fourth Day retreat and a silent retreat. If you would like more information on these programs, please click here.
It is my pleasure to say welcome home gentlemen and always remember: Live the Fourth.