Thirty young adults – from age 18 years to the mid-30s – gathered at Slí Eile Jesuit Centre for Young Adults to begin the journey to Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, Newry where they made a Kairos Retreat together. They assembled from TCD, UCD, DIT, NUI Maynooth, Mater Dei Institute of Education (DCU) and the business world. They were attracted to make the retreat by their own friends who also happen to be alumni/ae of the Jesuit schools in Ireland and who have already had the experience of leading Kairos at 2nd level.
Kairos is a peer-led retreat – loosely based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – given by young adults to young adults.
The Team consisted of eight leaders – Colm Keegan UCD, Eamonn O’Brien UCD, Cian Carolan UCD, Kilian Carroll TCD (all ex-Gonzaga College), James Mc Laughlin TCD, Ciara Beuster NUIM (ex-Coláiste Iognáid), Dargan Crowley-Long TCD (ex-Clongowes Wood College) and Christine Santisteban (TCD) who made the first Sli Eile Kairos Retreat to be held at 3rd level last year, under the direction of Patricia O’Connor and Myles O’Reilly sj. Also part of the team were Padraig Swan and Noelle Fitzpatrick (Sli Eile), Barrie McEntee, Co-ordinator of Chaplaincy Services – Mater Dei, and Terry Howard sj (Sli Eile) who was the retreat director.
Eight of the thirty students came from Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin which wishes to include Kairos in the annual experience offered to their students.
The leader team did a magnificent job and they deserve huge praise for their wholehearted commitment before and during the retreat. They were prepared and they were “real” – what more could be asked! The most amazing aspect of the entire experience was that it was they who found the retreatants. They simply said to their friends “come and see” and their friends came. And the experience itself for those retreatant-friends turned out to be everything one would hope for from a Kairos retreat. Terry Howard said that he continues to be “blown away” by the good that this retreat does in the lives of the young people who make it.
The plan at Sli Eile is to offer more Kairos opportunities so that more young adults – in the 18-35 years age-group – can benefit from the Kairos experience. The desire is to widen the availability of Kairos beyond the Jesuit Colleges where it first emerged in Ireland in 1996 – to the 3rd level environment and also to 2nd level Parish/School.
Part of the vision is to offer those who have already led a Kairos Retreat at 2nd level the opportunity to do so again when he/she arrives at 3rd level or even at post 3rd level. Terry Howard at Sli Eile ([email protected]) says that he has been gathering a data base of former and current Jesuit school students who would love the opportunity to lead Kairos again. That data base is not exclusive to those students who have already been Kairos leaders. The purpose however in focusing on former leaders is a very practical one. They have already been trained at 2nd level in the giving of the retreat – a training that is not so easily provided at 3rd level in the depth that is needed, because of geographical spread and the busyness of student life. E-mail him if you would like to be included on the database!