Kairos retreats for juniors in Catholic high schools evolving

Superintendent of Schools Janet Eaton spoke to Catholic school principals, administrators, and pastors at a meeting Aug. 4 in Good Shepherd Hall at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme and Superintendent of Schools Janet Eaton told Catholic school principals and administrators last month that the primary goal of a Catholic education is not to get a student into Harvard, it’s to get a student into heaven.

Eaton believes one way to advance that goal is through Kairos retreats.

“The intent is to bring the heart of Jesus to these kids to give them time to understand the love that God has for us,” she said.

An intimate experience with Jesus

The retreats allow students to have an intimate experience with Jesus Christ, Eaton said. Student take part in a Mass, hear presentations, participate in activities, and have the opportunity to go to Confession.

“My goal is that all of our kids – across all four high schools – when they’re a junior would have the experience of a Kairos retreat. It’s going to take a little bit to get there but we are able to dream about that.”

Eaton said the retreat is a life-changing experience for youth. “Our young people are hungry for our Lord. The extended retreat time allows them to be centered on the friendship that Jesus so wants to bring to each one.”

About Kairos

The word Kairos is related to the term “on God’s time.” A Kairos retreat in the diocese is a three-day, two-night retreat for about 35 students. It is led by six student leaders and a small group of teachers.

This year all juniors at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita will be required to take part in a Kairos retreat.

Eaton said she has received advice and assistance from St. Dominic High School in St. Louis and Bishop Miege High School in Kansas City, Kansas, to initiate the retreats in the Diocese of Wichita.

“With KMC up and running, we will take this year to onboard Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson so that they will start the Kairos retreats for their juniors during the 2023-24 school year,” she said. “Following that, the plan is to move to Bishop Carroll whereby retreats will be kicked off the 2024-25 school year.”
It will take a lot of prayer and resources to complete, Eaton said.

Kairos nourishes lives

“I know from personal experience of watching high school teens experience the Kairos retreat, that it is well worth it on all levels. The added bonus for the retreats will also come for our teachers who chaperone the groups. These educators will experience God’s love, too, in ways that will nourish their lives.”

Bill Creach, director of Campus Ministry at Bishop Miege, said last week that when he visits theology classes to give his sales pitch for the school’s Kairos retreats he explains that the retreat has a triple focus: our relationships with God, self, and others.

“I add that one of the three relationships may be the primary reason a student attends a Kairos, but by the end of the retreat, they’ve been given a lot to think about for all three of these relationships and how they are connected,” he said. “Retreatants are able to continue deepening and strengthening these three relationships, and support one another by participating in our weekly Fourth Day meetings.”

Creach said the school’s Kairos program not only benefits the student participants, but also their classmates and the entire community.