Kairos Retreat - Clongowes Wood College

Posted: 4th December 2014

Kairos literally speaking comes from one of two Greek words for time: ‘Kronos’  and ‘Kairos’. ‘Kronos’ referring to chronological/ sequential time, whereas ‘Kairos’ by its very definition signifies a moment of indeterminate time, in which something special happens and has been adapted in more recent times to mean ‘God’s time’. It is a peer Ministry retreat and lasts for three and one half days. The challenge posed by Kairos is the continuing and living of what one learns and experiences during this time.This incredible experience has been on going in our school for a respectable sixteen years.

It is modelled in part on the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The talks on Kairos are grounded on and centred around the revelation of God’s love for us and through all the people and experiences of our lives. Prayer and the sacraments allow the retreatants to see their faith in a meaningful way.

Peers complement the adults by sharing their personal history and theology. This has been recommended by Vatican II :

“Young persons themselves ought to become the prime and direct apostles of youth, exercising the apostolate among themselves and through themselves and reckoning with the social environment in which they live. ”

I can absolutely agree that our young leaders or ‘apostles of youth’ exercised and lived this recommendation from Vatican II during this Kairos retreat.

Our leaders were: Tim Burke, Michael Doyle, Fionnan Madden, Michael Moloney, Gavin Moore, Sergiu Morar, Aaron Murray, Dan O’ Mahony and Mark Thomas. Thanks also go to Robbie White, Jack Gillespie and Paddy Moore who led morning prayers for the retreatants.

The leaders and retreatants on Kairos began this special retreat when it was opened in the boys chapel by Fr. Moloney before continuing on their journey to Maynooth for its duration, until it returned back to where it began for the final liturgy and ceremony directed by Fr. Sheil.

The purpose of the Kairos retreat is to allow the retreatants to see the value of their Christian faith as lived and experienced in community. With the support of that community, the retreatants can more easily begin to reflect on themselves and find their true worth as human beings, in relationship with self, others and God. Listening is fundamental to the process of Kairos. The retreat helps people to integrate their own experiences with their cognitive development.

The trusting atmosphere of the Kairos community promotes good relationships; enhances a condition for positive change within the retreatants, so that when the retreat experiences concludes there is a foundation on which to build when they return home. There is also the “Living the Fourth meetings, which will be held one a month so that the spirit of the retreat will remain with the students as long as possible.

None of this would be possible without the adults who gave of themselves through their own personal stories on the retreat:

Ms. A Cooke, Mr. Pat Kenny, Mr. Colm Maloney, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Marron, Mr. Carroll, Mr. O’Hara, Mr. Kelly, Mr. K Maume  who helped out in various ways during the retreat. To Pat Keenan from maintenance who provided the beautiful wooden crosses for the retreat and to the kitchen staff who sent over enough food every night to feed an army.

Lastly and most certainly not least, credit and sincere thanks go to Fr. Sheil Ms. Mary Maume Mr. Francis Marron and Ms. Dolan for all their hard work and dedication in both the long preparation process before hand and for holding the fort as it were on the retreat itself.

As I bring to a close a very tiny window into this ‘Kairos’ experience two scripture references come to mind:

Acts 7:33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I was privileged to be apart of this experience and truly fortunate to stand accompany, witness and journey on this ‘Holy Ground’ with my colleagues and students over this special time.

Lastly, remembering in good humour our motto from the retreat:

‘What happens on Kairos, stays on Kairos’!


Categories: Ethos
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