“LIV”ing the Kairos high

By Amanda Weber

Features Contributor

Kairos LIV, or the 54th installment of Kairos, has just returned from the final weekend retreat offered of this school year. This retreat took place last weekend from March 11-13 at Cradle Beach Camp in Angola, NY.  As I heard from many members of my new Kairos family, “you are meant to go on the Kairos that you go on.” Unfortunately, if you are looking for all the juicy in’s and out’s of Kairos, you won’t find them here, as I cannot divulge too many secrets and specific details about Kairos itself, as they might use me for the next Kairos animal sacrifice if I did (just kidding!). I can, however, explain the history of Kairos at Canisius, explore what it is like to attend Kairos as a retreatant and a leader, inform fellow students of why they should at least consider going on Kairos, and provide my personal perspective and experience.Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.33.43 PM.png

Mike Hayes, Director of Campus Ministry and a member of Kairos LIV, explained to The Griffin the history of Kairos and how it came to Canisius College. “Around 17 years ago the Campus Ministry staff decided that they needed a stellar retreat program,” Hayes explained, “they hired Sue Fischer to research and develop one. She in turn reached out to colleagues at Boston College and Canisius High School to see what advice they might have to offer. There’s a common misconception that Kairos started at Boston College, but that’s not exactly true,” he continued, “Kairos started in high schools. Joliet Catholic High School in Illinois was the first to develop the model most similar to what we do here.”

As a first-time retreatant, Kairos is a unique and special opportunity, that once a part of, must be keep secret so that other attendees will be able to experience the surprises in the same way. Don’t even try to ask students wearing their waffle crosses about the details of the retreat because they’ll just tell you, “Just go and experience it for yourself!” with the largest of smiles.

I will admit, it is a little nerve-wracking going into this experience and having absolutely no idea what to expect. Features Editor Janelle Harb and fellow Kairos LIV retreatant, shared her personal thoughts. “You kind of go into this retreat not really knowing what to expect or what to get out of it, then you leave knowing exactly why you were there,” Harb said. “It was a life-changing experience that I cannot recommend enough to anyone. It brings your Canisius experience full circle and fills you with even more pride to be in this community.”

As the leader and director of Kairos LIV, our own Opinion Editor and senior Darby Ratliff, described her personal experience of the retreat overall.  “It was crazy and super chaotic,” Ratliff explained, “but it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. It was amazing to see the effect that the retreat had on everybody. It was a very renewing and restoring experience for me.”

Undergraduate Student Association President and leader of Kairos LIV, Rich Kubiak, described his personal experience as being both a recent retreatant of Kairos LIII, as well as being asked to be a leader for Kairos LIV immediately following the experience.  “The first time, it’s more uncertainty and trying to discover more of what Kairos is really about,” Kubiak explained. “For leading, I was more focused on making sure that everyone else got the same experience that I had. I had no expectation about leading on the March Kairos because they had all the leaders picked out in the beginning of the year, it got so big so that they needed additional leaders, so it was a great surprise.”

For me personally, the Kairos retreat and experience has become an integral part in my life and identity as a member of the Canisius community. I believe that all Canisius students should attend Kairos before they graduate. For those daunted by the experience Hayes explains that “Kairos is a pretty non-threatening experience that is open to all people of faith, while it is based on the Ignatian exercises and we have a small mass on the weekend, the retreat is really open to people of all religious and nonreligious backgrounds. Many say that they need to go on the retreat before they leave Canisius – so put it on your Golden Griffin bucket list!”

Ratliff shared the same sentiments by explaining that, “At its most basic level and worst case scenario, Kairos is a weekend away. It lets students explore their spirituality and who they are in a time that’s really formative for them. A student should go because in the best case scenario, it can change their life.”

Kubiak agreed, “It gives you time to separate from all of your responsibilities and gives you time to focus on where you want to go and how you want to live your life.”

Personally, Kairos LIV has provided me with a new family with both my small group (#ImpaledDucks) and my entire Kairos community to surround and support me in my times of need. I cannot express how good it made me feel to open up and be vulnerable with all these beautiful individuals, and finally experience this retreat for myself.

In all, Kairos is not just a three-day retreat, it represents a community of people, both recent and long-standing members, who fully support and love you. Although I have gone on numerous retreats before, I can honestly say that I have never felt this connected to a group of individuals. Thank you to all of the leaders and individuals who were able to make this retreat possible, past and present.

If you’re looking to attend a Kairos retreat in the future, they occur three times during each school year. Retreats take place in the fall, usually October, and two take place in the spring semester, usually falling during February and March. The cost for the weekend is $50 with scholarships available for this priceless experience.

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