Participants of the October Kairos, McNick’s 111th Kairos retreat, leave for the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford on Oct. 31 and will return to McNick on Nov. 3. Kairos, one of the retreat options for seniors, is known for keeping the format of the retreat unknown to retreatants, and some future participants are wondering what to expect.
Senior Lindsey Hamad, who is going on October Kairos, said, “I expect to get to know myself even better.”
Senior Matt Baker, another October Kairos participant, said, “I’m expecting to get closer to some people who I don’t really know.” He also added, “I’m expecting to pack a watermelon, for some reason” after being told by a previous retreatant to pack the fruit.
A third future retreatant, senior Trey Ackel, said, “I think it’s going to be calming, like I’m going to come out with a new appreciation for the simplicity of life.”
Students also have high hopes for Kairos. “I’m hoping to become close to a new group,” Hamad said. “I hope it’s a great experience and I think it will be,” she added.
Ackel said, “I’m hoping to get closer to God,” and senior Ethan Vaughn, also attending K111, hopes “just to have a good time.”
Theology teacher and Kairos teacher leader Mary Beth Sandmann said she hopes students walk away with “a deeper awareness of the goodness that is within them.” She also hopes students experience, “an authentic connection with God lived out with connection to others.”
In addition to hopes, participants have some concerns. “I am nervous about the showers and the sleeping arrangements,” Hamad said.
Retreatants are kept from knowing what will happen on Kairos. “They’re not really secrets,” Sandmann said. “They’re meant to be surprises, gifts to be unwrapped at Kairos.”
One purpose of the Kairos retreat is to open student’s eyes to their own worth. “Our hope and prayer is that all of you continue to realize the wonderful, beautiful, and perfect person that God created you to be. That’s really what this is about,” Sandmann said. “You have so much to give to the world.”
Future retreatants won’t have to go totally unknowing though, because seniors from past retreats give advice to the future participants. “Don’t leave with any regrets. If you want to do or say anything, Kairos is definitely the place for that,” said senior Emily Henkes, who participated in August Kairos. She also added, “Journal. Write everything down. You’re going to want it later.”
Senior Luke Guessford, also a participant in August Kairos, said, “Participate don’t anticipate.”
Senior Abbey Pour, a participant on March Kairos and student leader on August Kairos, said, “Be with new people. Don’t hang out with the usual group. You may make friendships you never thought you’d make.” She added, “It is important to know that it is a no-judgement zone.”
Sandmann gives the advice, “to be willing to detach from the business of everyday life because then you’ve got time to find the beautiful person that God created you as.” She also advises, “to be willing to relax.”
Brett Liming, an August Kairos participant, said, “Try not to ask questions before you go… it’s better to not know anything before.” He added, “Listen twice as much as you speak. Hearing other’s points of view can affect you just as much as it can affect them.”
October Kairos participants are expecting to leave for the retreat on October 31. Many questions about the retreat have been left unanswered, and the retreatants wonder what to expect.