"Lord ... when did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
- Matthew 25:37
Kairos is a volunteer, lay-led, interdenominational Christian ministry, which consists of three programs: Kairos Inside (Men/Women), Kairos Outside (for families of the incarcerated), and Kairos Torch (to reach incarcerated youth).
The mission of the Kairos Prison Ministry is to share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to impact the hearts and live of incarcerated men, women, and youth, as well as their families, to become loving and productive citizens of their communities.
The Kairos Vision is a community spiritually freed from the effects of imprisonment reaching all impacted by incarceration, through the love, hope and faith found in Jesus Christ. By sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, Kairos hopes to change hearts and transform lives. Kairos helps reduce recidivism, improve the prison environment, make communities safer, reunite and heal families, and create positive and productive members of society.
Kairos sprang from the Cursillo movement and are much like the Walk to Emmaus, Crusillo, Via de Cristo, Tres Dias and Cum Christo weekends. Volunteers are from these 4th day ministries as well as volunteers from Christian Churches. As you can see Kairos embraces a diverse group of volunteers working together to fulfill Christ’s call to action in Matthew 25:36 – “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Kairos does not meet at regular intervals like religious education, choir, RCIA, or SPY. Kairos weekends start Thursday afternoon and end Sunday afternoon. They are generally given twice a year about 6 months apart. Team building for the Kairos weekend requires a minimum of 32 hours of preparation for the weekend. How and when the team gets together for this team building is up to the discretion of the weekend team leader. Some choose to do team building during the week nights for as many nights as it takes to meet Kairos requirements. Others may choose to do it on weekends.
Once you have been on a weekend, you are eligible to attend weekly prayer and share sessions in the prison where you gave the weekend. There are some special occasions called monthly reunion weekends, retreats and others that team members are welcome to attend as well.
Meeting places vary according to the needs of the team. The weekend team leader makes the call based on where the team members live and where the prison is located. The meeting place itself may be a church or some other facility that can accommodate the number of people on the team.
All Kairos events and activities take place inside the prison usually in the chapel or gymnasium or other room that is large enough to hold the anticipated number volunteers and inmates attending.
Other Ways to Help
The Kairos ministry is responsible for all aspects of the weekends, retreats, and prayer & share events. All supplies such as food, paper supplies, tables, coolers, drinks, and costs to cover the weekend.
So there are many opportunities for parishioners to help the Kairos ministry, and many of them do not require entering the prison facility.
Weekend cooking team (1 to 3 day commitment) – volunteers cook meals in a church near Southeast Correctional Institution. They do not need to go inside.
Cookie Bakers (several hours) – Hundreds of volunteers bake cookies at home and store one dozen per Ziploc bag. Over 1,800 dozen chocolate chip cookies will be needed to service all residents, workers, vendors, and correctional officers and administrative staff inside the boundaries of the institution on Friday of the weekend alone. This does not include the 400 dozen cookies of all types needed for those making the weekend (inmates and volunteers).
72 Hour Prayer Vigil (1/2 to 1 hour assignments) – volunteers commit to pray during the weekend. If you already are signed up for adoration during this time period, your adoration time could be spent praying for the success of the weekend.
Poster or Banner or Placemat (Good family or Religious Education or Youth Project) – Original artwork of good wishes hung on wall or are on placemats for meal times. Don’t be surprised if your placemat never gets used for that purpose. I saw many inmates fold their placemats up before the meal so that they would not get dirty. They took them back to their bunks and lockers for decorations.
Prayer Chain - The chain is made up of strips of paper about 1" wide x 5" length, usually multi-colored paper. One writes a short prayer or bible verse on the slip of paper and places it in a collection receptacle. The team then tapes each of the individual papers together to form one large continuous paper prayer chain. The chain then gets hung on the walls of the meeting room or in some cases also get placed upon the shoulders of all in the room during a chapel service. This would be a great group project for any group at Seton and especially for each person in Sunday night Religious Education class (student and teacher) as a corporal act of mercy.
Agape Notes (approximately 10 hours) – volunteers write a one paragraph “hand written” note to each inmate on the weekend.
Funding – It costs about $8,400.00 for each weekend which comes from private funding (no state tax money is used). This is about $200.00 per inmate per weekend. Donations are tax deductible.
How To Join
Please contact Chuck Janes for an application form. Once you have filled out the application, return it to him and he will forward it to the appropriate people. A Kairos representative will then contact you.
It is strongly recommended, but not required, that volunteers participate in a similar Christian renewal weekend such as Cursillo, Cum Christo, and Tres Dias. You will experience the Holy Spirit and having “negotiated the passage” you will be equipped to assist others to do the same.
The time you spend in song, worship, skits, and prayer gives serious close times with wonderful men. Your presence helps them find the gift of the Holy Spirit and truly make a difference in their lives.
Interested in Joining?
If you have additional questions about this ministry, please contact Chuck Janes (614-889-8341).
You may download a brochure to learn more about Kairos and how you can help.