During their senior year, students have a lot on their minds – finals, prom, summer break and the stress and excitement of post-high school life. At Don Bosco Tech, a Catholic Boys Prep School in Rosemead, California, the faculty leans into this period of transition as an opportunity for powerful life impact. For almost 20 years, Bosco Tech has done retreat called Kairos. “Kairos is the Greek word for time. Not Chronos, which is linear time, Kairos which is God’s time,” said Robert Godoniz, the Bosco Tech faculty member who runs the bi-annual retreat.
“As a school, we serve working class families and many of the kids are on some form of financial aid,” said Robert. Since the 1980s, the school has offered this 4-day retreat, to give the students time away from the city and the pressures of life to instead center on relationships: with God, family, friends and themselves. “We take them out of their daily schedule and give them time to think and grow”
For the last 20 years Kairos has been held at Green Oak Ranch.
The retreat is a combination of fun and spiritual activities. They take advantage of the beautiful outdoor setting, letting the power of God’s creation impact these “city kids.” “We hold the retreat for students during their senior year,” Robert said. “They are going to college, leaving their families. We want them to have a sense of peace. That they will be at peace with who they are, where they are going and with the kind of adults that they want to become.”
These four days often have a life changing effect on the students.
“The beauty of the retreat is that we are all so busy that we can miss the day to day ways that God works in our lives,” Robert shared. “We’ve had students who have struggled with substance abuse, or had issues within their family. At Kairos, they discovered that they aren’t alone and that they can share these difficult things and not be ashamed. They learned that people will lift them up.” The results can be life-changing both emotionally and spiritually.
“I remember one student who led grace for the first time before the last meal of our retreat. Why was this a big deal? He began the retreat as a devote atheist.”
“One of the symbols of Kairos is a cross that all the attendees receive. A couple of years ago I was at a birthday party and someone saw my cross and asked, ‘Did you go to Kairos?’ We had a great conversation about the retreat and his wonderful memories of Green Oak Ranch.” It reminded Robert that Kairos becomes a lifetime touchstone for these kids.
“We often have alumni come back as counselors for the Kairos retreat. Last year when we pulled through the gate I heard one of these students say, ‘It’s good to be home.’”