A Kairos retreat is a multi-day spiritual awakening activity sponsored by the Catholic Church for high school and college-age youth. The purpose of the retreat is to help the participants contemplate their relationship with God, discover their own identity and build stronger bonds with their peers. The Kairos retreat dates back to the 1960s and has its roots in the 16th century spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
The Kairos retreat normally lasts three to four days. It is done through schools or local churches. The leaders are youth of about the same age who have already gone on a Kairos retreat. Adults and clergy also participate as facilitators. The retreat takes place in an area that is secluded from the distractions of modern life. Participants often are asked to turn in their cell phones in order to promote worshipful concentration.
Because of the sacred nature of the participants' personal spiritual experiences, the exact activities of the Kairos are not divulged. Traditional components of the retreat include singing, meditation and sharing of testimonies. Throughout the retreat, the participants discover a personal relationship with God and develop a strong sense of community with their companions.
The modern Kairos retreat is based on Ignatian spirituality. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, stressed the pursuit of an undistracted awareness of God through meditation, prayer and reflection.