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Kairos (retreat)

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Kairos, adapted to mean "God's time", is a Christian, Ignatian[1] retreat program for high school and college students that began in Jesuit schools in Ohio, but, now, takes place around the world. The retreat is an intense few days, usually during a long weekend, that provide participants the chance to contemplate on God's role in their lives.[2]


These Kairos retreats began at the Jesuit Retreat House near Cleveland, Ohio,[3] which is affiliated with John Carroll University and several high schools around the area. After several Jesuit high schools schools in Ohio adopted the tradition, non-Jesuit Catholic high schools throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico began to participate. More recently, efforts have been made to establish a Kairos tradition in mainland Europe, starting in Geneva, Switzerland.


The content of the Kairos retreat is rarely spoken of outside those who experience it, and the majority of those who do experience it prefer to remain secretive on its content. The difference between Kairos and other retreats is that it focuses mostly on helping one find his or her own personal relationship with God during a few days of discerning and discovery. Through the course of the retreat, a building of a strong community takes place, through encouraging openness, reflection, and trust.


Participants are often kept unaware of the "mysterious" goings on of the spiritual retreat. According to those who run the retreat, it is kept confidential, because the experience is difficult to understand out of context. What happens would not be understood or appreciated in the same way others appreciate it while they are on the retreat. Because of its secretive nature, the retreat is often surrounded by many myths and legends. These myths include brainwashing, peanutbutter rubdown sessions, communal showers, naked dodgeball, and urine sampling. Those who are due to undergo the retreat are usually asked not to do research into the retreat before experiencing it, as the retreat process relies on its secrecy.


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