Forty-five students left their backpacks, cellphones and day-to-day high school life behind last week — they traveled to Camp Letts in Edgewater for four days and three nights with God and themselves.
This was Kairos (Greek for “time with God”), a retreat experience that students in Catholic schools across the country participate in every year. By getting away like they do, students have time to focus on their spiritual relationships.
At Cristo Rey Jesuit, one group of seniors attends Kairos every fall and another group attends every spring. This month, seven student leaders who had previously attended served as mentors to 39 first-time attendees. Seven teachers or CRJ staff attended as well. For the first time this year, a group of 20 juniors attended Kairos. Next year’s Kairos leaders will be chosen from this group.
What was the week like? Cold and snowy and quiet and weird. But also amazing and joyous and beautiful.
Here are some of the reactions from our students who attended Kairos:
“One word that describes this event is change. We are trying to be better for others, but more importantly for ourselves.” – Anntasia Arias
“Kairos was basically breaking out. As time passed, we all had some genuine laughs and cried together. It was a bonding moment for us. The ability to speak for yourself to people you usually don’t talk to is a big step forward. I want to thank the teachers, leaders and staff. This was a life changing moment.” – Chris Smith
“A big part for my group was making ourselves vulnerable. It took a lot of strength and courage to actually open ourselves up like we did.” – Bernard McFadden
“Kairos was truly a blessing. It wasn’t stuff that was out of the ordinary, but it was out of the norm for us. It really made us think about ourselves and our peers. Society defines what a good life and a good person is, but that may not be the same or true for everyone. Learning from each other made us better people. It made us learn what a good life can be for different people.” – Mason Douglas
“Let me first try to say ‘kai-ros’ correctly. Kairos. It was truly a blessing. I ‘knew’ everyone, but I really got to know everyone. [begins to cry] It was really hard for everyone to open up. I learned so much about each of the people in my group. They really needed a friend. I’m grateful for this opportunity because without it, I would still be just focused on myself as an individual.” – DeJonna Farrar
“Before Kairos I was shy and wouldn’t share anything with others. I usually just sit in the back of the class quietly. By the second day, it hit me that I needed to change. I took off the masks. I had masks inside of me, but I took them off.” – Rodrigo Bermudez
“I am truly grateful for this opportunity, especially for my group. They shared so openly…and so did I. It is something I don’t usually do. I want to thank them and this whole experience.” – Briahna Jackson