Forty-six groups of Gilmour upperclassmen wondered the very same question, and all 46 groups will give a slightly different answer. In general, Kairos is a retreat that many Catholic schools have introduced, both in high school and college. Students of Gilmour leave the halls of the Academy for three days and travel to the Loyola Retreat House in Clinton, Ohio. Ms. Martha Ligas (`09), Instructor in Religious Studies, said, “Kairos is a time where you step away from the routine of daily life to take time to reflect on what really matters.”
Kairos, a promising moment for decision or action, or “God’s time,” is an opportunity for students to grow in faith and become closer with God as well as other members of the Gilmour community. The mission of Gilmour is to educate the mind and the heart, which is lived out through the Kairos experience. Often at school, the mind is center stage. “Kairos is a great way to help our hearts grow, taking intentional time to think about, pray about, and reflect on what is important in our lives,” said Ligas.
Students who have attended the retreat in the past speak very highly of the experience. Mira Soukenik (`19) said, “Kairos was very eye-opening to the fact that other people are struggling and you aren’t alone.” The main thing Soukenik took away from this retreat is that everyone is fighting their own battles, so she plans to try her best to be nice to others because she does not know what any individual is going through. Kairos ties in nicely with Gilmour’s mission statement, which is “to develop the competence to see and the courage to act in creating a more humane and just society.”
Ethan Muchnicki (`18) had the unique opportunity to be both a retreatant and leader of Kairos. For both of his experiences, his favorite aspect of Kairos was how “everyone comes together as a group and gets so close to people that they rarely talk to, but pass in the halls each day.” Muchnicki shared that Kairos was one of the best experiences of his life and how he is so thankful that Gilmour has given him this opportunity. He thinks that this retreat is exemplary of the real world and it gives students meaningful perspective.
Over the course of the month before the retreat, a team of senior leaders work hard to plan all of the activities that take place during Kairos. Muchnicki claimed that even though there is quite a bit of work that goes into planning Kairos, “it is more fun than busy work. It’s exciting so it makes the time go by fast.”
Even though what happens during Kairos remains private, the retreatants become a public part of the greater Kairos community. As far as the retreat goes, “approach it with an open mind, trusting that it will be a positive experience,” said Ligas. It is important for retreatants not to pry for details and stay open to this unique experience that Gilmour offers.
One of the most common pieces of advice for students interested in attending this retreat is to just go for it. “It is different for everyone, so just experiencing it is all you can ask for” said Muchnicki. Ligas added,“Don’t think twice. Just sign up!”