With the Year of Teens and Young Adults starting this month, it helps to think about our own faith when we were teenagers. When I was a teenager, I was pretty confident I knew everything I needed to know about God and my faith. Having grown up Catholic and being a part of a faithful family, this was an easy assumption for me to have. That was until I went on a KAIROS retreat.
My KAIROS experience challenged me to see my faith in a new way, in which I had to choose how I would live this faith. This retreat experience is what prompted me to get involved in my parish youth ministry at the ripe old age of seventeen years old. Seeing where I am now, the rest, as they say, is history.
Many of the Catholic High Schools in the Archdiocese have adopted KAIROS retreats as part of their Campus Ministry opportunities. However, in recent years, more Parish Youth Ministry Programs have adopted KAIROS retreats as opportunities to have their teenagers from public schools participate in this great experience as well as bring them closer together in community.
I have had the privilege to work with two KAIROS retreats whose ministries are a little different. The North Side KAIROS retreat was the one I went on as a teenager and is still going strong, entering its twelfth year. This KAIROS retreat was started by a group of youth ministers from different parishes in Vicariate II. They wanted to make sure their teenagers, who were mostly from public schools, would have an opportunity to have this retreat experience. However, they never limited the retreat to just their own parishes. The retreat has always been open to youth from all walks of life, no matter where they were from or what faith tradition they claimed. Because of that openness, North Side KAIROS has had teenagers from as far north as Antioch, IL and as far south as 95th Street and from all the major faith traditions.
When I was a parish youth minister, I recognized how important this retreat was to me, so I worked with youth ministers from nearby parishes to create one for the community where I grew up and had been ministering. This became the Vicariate III KAIROS retreat. Adopting a similar model to the NS KAIROS, we built a retreat opportunity for many of the teenagers in our parishes who would normally not have access to this experience. The team does a lot of fundraising to make the retreat affordable and they never turn anyone down because of finances. This is a life giving ministry to all those involved and it helps teenagers discover the importance of their faith.
If you would like to support these Kairos retreats or have a teenager who would like to participate, please contact me and I will connect you to the retreat coordinators.