“If you want to find out, you have to discover it yourself,” said Campus Minister Gregory Vigliotta, regarding Fairfield’s most mysterious opportunities, Kairos, a three-day, off-campus retreat that is open to all students.
Usually held two or three times each year, roughly 40 students to 50 students attend each time. By now you may know the drill: your friends board a bus on Friday. Some want to go, some are persuaded by others.
After three days absence, they return with a bronze necklace and a secret.
It’s a simple necklace: a bronze medallion, etched with five crosses, dangling from a black cord that’s double knotted at the back. The wearers of these necklaces share a common, bonding experience.
Most of sophomore Melissa Cinquina’s friends have attended the retreat. “I get the feeling that everyone who goes on Kairos forms close, lasting and meaningful friendships,” she said. “The Kairos community seems very close-knit.”
Meredith Marquez, a member of the Career Planning office, was a faculty leader on K22, an affectionate nickname for Fairfield University’s 22nd Kairos retreat that occurred in December of 2012.
“Most students go on Kairos because one of their friends went and told them it was an awesome experience – something they had to do before they graduated,” Marquez said. “Students come back to campus refreshed, energized, and pretty darn happy,” she continued, explaining that this phenomenon is what many students refer to as the Kai-High.
For most members, the experience doesn’t end with the initial retreat, which is covered in layers of secrecy.
Students that have already attended Kairos do not discuss the retreat activities outside of the Kairos community. When asked about the retreat, most students respond, “We really can’t talk about it … ”
Jake Shemtob ’15, was encouraged to attend Kairos by his friends within the Campus Ministry Lector community.
“People told me that it’s on the top of the list of things to do before you graduate,” he said. Shemtob signed up immediately for K19, and it had a lasting impact on his life.
“Kairos helped me in a rough time during my freshman year at Fairfield,” Shemtob said. “I reconnected with myself and remembered that no matter what, there are people who loved me and cared for me.”
“It puts things into perspective for you and reminds you about the greatest gift in the world … love,” Shemtob added.
Students say that new members are welcomed into the Kairos community as family.
As for the secrecy, Shemtob shared the Kairos community’s mentality. “The secrecy is so important because it protects the most impactful part of the experience,” he said. “I don’t think people would be as amazed with the experience if it wasn’t for the secret.”
Though many students who attend the retreat speak highly of it, some students are hesitant to go altogether.
Junior Jon Clarke explained, “A lot of people didn’t like the ‘retreats’ they were forced to go on for residential colleges. Also, I think that a lot of people just don’t really know what it is or haven’t heard of them.” He added, “Students might think that you have to be part of some club or you have to be a practicing Catholic in order to go.”
Tiana Noujaim ‘16 agreed, “I don’t know anyone who would be going, and I don’t really like surprises. All this secrecy behind this retreat is making me really nervous about going.”
Applications and a $65 retreat fee are due Friday, Feb. 15.
Students can sign up on the Fairfield University website.
Stags have been trying to figure out Kairos for years. Read this Mirror article from 2011 on the mysterious retreat here.