Kairos Ministry Overview

The Model used by Kairos was developed from one that originated in the Catholic Cursillo. The Cursillo Movement itself began in the 1940's, and the first Cursillo weekend officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church was held in 1949. Cursillo was brought to this country by Spanish Air Force personnel training in Texas. The first weekend in the US was held in Waco, Texas in 1957. In 1961 the first English-speaking Cursillo weekend was held in San Antonio, Texas.

Since then, this model for a 3-Day Short Course in Christianity has been adopted by most of the major Christian denominations. Although each denomination adds its own "flavor," the core model remains the same, and each group tries to preserve the details of this core model. For example, the Kairos version has the same core content, but the content is non-denominational and details have been adapted to the prison environment. The first Kairos was held in Raiford, FL in 1976. A written booklet or set of training materials is provided to each volunteer, to ensure that they know what the Model entails and what is expected of them. The most detailed history of Cursillo history and all its flavors is given here. Also see A History of Kairos. Here is an extensive listing of Kairos and Cursillo web sites. The most extensive listing of Kairos web sites is on the MyKairos web site.

A PBS video dated May 14, 2015 gives a wonderful portrait of a Kairos weekend in an Indiana prison. (PBS Article)

Each Weekend, which typically starts on Thursday evening and runs through Sunday afternoon, consists of 15 primary talks on topics of Basic Christianity. These are augmented by special meditations presented during each day. God's grace and the need for Forgiveness are two major themes that run through the weekend. The talks and meditations are presented mostly by lay people, but certain ones are given by clergy who have set aside the weekend to serve the team and participants.

A team of laity and clergy are selected by the Team Leader, working through an Advisory Committee that is responsible for the conduct of Kairos Weekends at each prison. The team members covenant to pray for one another and to attend a series of training events designed to show them how to follow the Model and lead the participants on the weekend. Most of the team members have attended one or more Kairos or other Cursillo-model weekends, but a few of the team members may attend a Kairos as their first 3-day weekend.

All team members are given specific job assignments for the weekend, along with job descriptions. Individuals assigned talks are required to prepare and preview their talks before the team, to ensure that the content is in keeping with the Model, and suggestions are made to enhance the delivery, as appropriate. Additional training is provided regarding prison rules and proper conduct inside the institution. Most facilities require that specific training be conducted by an institution representative or someone who is sanctioned by that institution, to ensure that all persons entering the institution as volunteers know what is expected of them while inside the facility.

Every weekend is supported by prayer, not only the prayers of the team members and their families, but by people all over the world who are sent information about the event and asked to pray specifically for it. A team of individuals who do not actually go into the facility also supports the weekend by providing meals and other things needed by the inside team. Over the course of the weekend, the participants gradually become aware of all the people who are supporting them, thus sharing God's love with them in tangible ways.

In addition to Kairos Inside, which is held at both men's and women's facilities, there is Kairos Outside, which is a similar weekend experience for females who have a friend or relative in prison, and Kairos Torch, which is for youthful offenders in prison.

For additional information about Kairos, visit the Kairos Prison Ministry International web site

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