by MIKALIA WENKER '14
Kairos is defined as a religious retreat program grounded in Christian incarnational theology, our Christian belief that God is very much part of our real world, especially through the continuing presence of Jesus Christ. This secretive tradition began as a program which went by the name of “Christian Awakening” in 1965. It was an adaptation to previous type of retreat that Father Douglas Brown Father Douglas Brown in Brooklyn decided to make to develop a retreat well fit for teenagers. By 1968, the retreat had spread to 12 different states. This retreat was centered upon students working together to build relationships, a strategy that has been strongly recommended since Vatican II. The first Kairos retreat to be held at St. Ursula Academy was in January of 1990. Since then, this tradition of Kairos has been fostered and grown in the St. Ursula community.
Although lengths and titles may differ at separate schools, the “secrets” and traditions are all the same. Some may wonder why it is important for Kairos to be so secretive. Mrs. Caito, the coordinator of SUA’s Kairos retreat, describes the mysteries of Kairos as “sacred events that, when taken out of context, wouldn’t make sense.” Of course, to any underclassmen who have yet to experience this retreat, the secrets of Kairos can be something very frustrating that spark one’s curiosity. As a community, many find the secrets of Kairos to be very important and, therefore, should be kept hidden. It is a tradition for the activities to be kept mum and, trust the upperclassmen when they say, “It is better not to know.” The three years of spiritual journey retreats that lead up to the big event of Kairos fully prepare a student.
So people may not be able to let others in on the mystery, but what can be said, is the greatest part of Kairos: the experience. As Mrs. Caito says, “the greatest part of Kairos is the ability to take the time to be quiet and reflective.” Additionally, the few aspects of Kairos that can be shared include many of the physical attributes. When entering the retreat center, the overwhelming feeling of acceptance and community is hard to explain. Sticking 40+ St. Ursula girls under one building for three days may sound like the ultimate stress but, when all girls enter with an open mind and heart, the experience can be genuinely life changing. In a world full of instant gratification and constant stress, the paradise that is Kairos is an experience worth waiting for. Though the curiosity may be difficult to deal with, the surprise and joy one may unearth in their Kairos experience is certainly a prize.