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Kairos Outside Origins


Kairos Outside began in 1989 as an idea from the chaplain at San Quentin State Correctional Facility in California after the first Kairos Prison Ministry retreat. He felt, as did many involved in the ministry, that those who became involved in the Kairos program were now open to family unity, more so than ever before.

James Rowland, then Director for the Department of Corrections for California, has often said, "Three things will help keep an inmate from coming back to prison: The first is some type of spiritual awakening while in prison; the second is support by their family during and after incarceration; and the third is a skill to find a job on the outside after release." Jo Chapman, a Kairos volunteer from California, took his idea and developed Kairos Outside from it.

The Kairos Prison Ministry is an excellent vehicle to provide for a spiritual experience on the inside, while Kairos Outside is designed to bolster the loved ones who are supporting those incarcerated persons. The women on the outside, in many ways, have to be stronger than those on the inside to survive in today's world.

Kairos Outside is a blend of the movement on the street, Cursillo, which spawned Kairos years ago and the Kairos Prison Ministry which is spreading to so many of our nation's correctional institutions. The presenting members may be involved in Cursillo, Emmaus, Tres Dias, etc. and/or the Kairos Ministry. More importantly, they are concerned, committed Christians who believe in these women and want to encourage them on their life's journey.

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 time set by God for a particular occurrence. "KAIROS" was found to be a word of very special significance in the environment of the correctional institution where the word "time" carries so many special connotations. We have found that the word "KAIROS" also has some very special meaning for the loved ones of those inside.


The weekend is a series of talks by women sharing their life's journey. Each guest has the opportunity to review the talk in small family groups. However, sharing is voluntary. The program is interspersed with music, prayer, fun activities and general agape. The weekend is Christian in nature, although no religious affiliation is necessary to attend. Those who attend are expected to stay for the entire program.


Any adult female family member, 20 years or older, whose life has been impacted by the incarceration of a loved one, is eligible to attend a Kairos Outside weekend. The weekend is not coed. No men, even team members, are permitted in the community room with the women during a weekend.
This support is first provided in a safe environment with Christian people during a Kairos Outside weekend. During this weekend, the guests will also have a chance to interact with other women who are in similar situations and learn how to form small groups to support and give them strength in their life's journey.