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Cursillo-related Movements > for special groups > Kairos
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Meaning of "Kairos"

Kairos  is a Greek word, used in the New Testament to mean 'now is the time', or 'God's appointed time'.  There are two Greek words for time. One of them, with which we are all familiar, is "kronos," meaning linear time ... hours, days, weeks, etc. The other is "kairos," used in the sense of "a special time" wanted by divine Providence for a special occurence. We all know what the expression "to make time" means for a prisoner.  Kairos calls it "God's Special Time".

Kairos is a Cursillo-like Movement for prisoners.  Largely spread, it is also widely recognized as one of the most effective program available to positively change basic attitudes of the incarcerated.

The purpose of Kairos is to establish strong Christian communities among the populations of correctional institutions. This is done through the impact of small, 3-to-5 person, share and prayer groups of leaders resident in the institutions. These groups are to meet weekly to share their lives on a deep spiritual level and to pray for one another and for other residents and staff .

The initial impetus for the formation of these groups arises from the presentation of a 3-Day Kairos Short Course in Christianity which is repeated every six months.

The Kairos strategy is to identify leaders from the key environments of the institution, leaders who have the greatest potential to impact their environments with the message of Christ’s love. These leaders are then invited to attend the 3-Day "cursillo" which is typically offered by an interdenominational team of about 55 persons for a group of 42 residents.


Kairos began in 1976 during a Cursillo weekend given in a maximum security institution in Raiford, Florida. Tom Johnson, a lawyer and Catholic Cursillista from Miami, Florida, adapted the Cursillo in order to meet the needs and the mentality of the prison environment.  By 1978, six or seven states were doing Cursillo in prison.

The national Cursillo office in Dallas, Texas surveyed these prison Cursillos and determined that they should be ecumenical, they should be under a central authority and that the format should be significantly altered to better meet the needs of those in prison.   Cursillo asked the Florida group to design a program for that particular application. Then the National Cursillo office preferred to separate itself from this new format and entrusted it to an independent organization with a new name given to this prison ministry : Kairos


Kairos is now active in 29 American states, Australia, England, South Africa and Canada. The ministry is active in 230 prisons.  

More than 120,000 incarcerated men and women have been introduced to the Christian community that is Kairos and the current rate of introduction exceeds 15,000 per year.

Our summary excerpted from the "Kairos Prison Ministry UK" page and the "Kairos Prison Ministry Gauteng" page.  For further information from these sites and others, see: Kairos websites.