The latest retreat — Kairos 78 — took place in March. According to records in the school’s campus ministry department, 3,156 students have attended the retreat over the years and of those, 800 have come back as leaders to give witness talks and lead small group discussions.
The contemplative retreat enables juniors and seniors to hear testimony from their senior leaders and adult moderators, leading them to reflect on their own personal relationship with God.
Br. Rob points to a former student, Andrew Johnstone, who first approached him in the spring of 1991 with the idea of having a Kairos retreat at Saint Viator. He had accompanied his older brother on a Kairos Retreat at Loyola Academy and when he returned, he sought out Br. Rob to bring the retreat to Saint Viator.
Sadly, Andrew was killed in an auto accident that summer and during the next school year his peers were too overcome by grief to think of hosting Kairos. It wasn’t until the fall of 1992 that Br. Rob and student leaders revisited the idea and put the first Kairos retreat into motion.
“Kairos was an overwhelming success right from the start, and I’m proud to have been a part of it,” Br. Rob said in reflecting on the retreat at its 20th anniversary. “What excites me most is seeing the relationships that get healed and the barriers broken down between kids when they’re on the retreat.
“It’s really cool,” he adds. “If everyone could walk around and see people without masks, we’d have a better world.”
One year after starting Kairos at Saint Viator, Br. Rob brought it to Bishop Gorman High School and helped its two campus ministers at the time — Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, and Associate Karen Cutler— to launch it. Bishop Gorman students attended Kairos 75 in April.
Additionally, Kairos retreats now can be found at Viatorian parishes in Bourbonnais and Las Vegas, and at least two suburban parishes in the Chicago area where Saint Viator students helped to lead them.
The Kairos movement continues. In May, interviews were held at Saint Viator High School to assemble the team of 12 leaders for Kairos 79, coming up in November.