Sixteen senior students of De La Salle College, Mangere East participated in the College's first Kairos retreat over the weekend. Held at Houghton Bay Bush Camp north of Auckland, the Kairos retreat program is a popular multi-day format of retreat for young adults inviting participants to encounter God through their life stories and those of others.
Facilitated by staff members from De La Salle College; Br Lewis Harwood, Director of Mission; Brendan Bergin, Religious Education Coordinator and Chanel Alataua, Social Worker. Also alongside were three recent graduates from St Peter's College in Auckland, Gene Kiely, Christopher Oleva, and Gerard-Luke Malgas. Further assistance was provided by Assistant Director of Formation, Amanda Proulx of Lasallian Mission Services and Fr Carl Telford SM, who joined the group as chaplain for the weekend.
Amanda Proulx, who had assisted with facilitating Kairos retreats at La Salle Academy in Providence, RI (USA) before joining the Lasallian Mission Services last year, was pleased to help bring the retreat to De La Salle, Mangere.
"Elective retreats are a wonderful opportunity for older students to engage in their faith journeys on a deeper level than compulsory, large-group reflection days ordinarily allow," she reflected.
"Kairos is a highly effective program because it is accessible to all students - everyone has a story. It is also a natural fit with our Lasallian spirituality, which calls our attention to a loving God who journeys with us and is clearly present in our day-to-day experiences of community."
Mr Dermot English, Deputy Principal at De La Salle College, was instrumental in bringing the Kairos program to the school.
"Two of my three sons experienced Kairos while students at St Peter's College," he noted. "After witnessing the long-lasting impact it has had on their lives, I wanted to make Kairos available to the students at De La Salle."
At the close of the retreat, the student participants were given the opportunity to express their thoughts about the experience.
"It was life-changing," many said. One student notes that "It made God's unconditional love real for me in a way that it never was before." After such a positive response, Mr English plans to run the Kairos program on a regular basis at the school.