President’s Letter | November/December 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues

It is with a heavy heart that I write these lines as we have heard about the death of Father Xavier de Meeûs one of the founders of our association. I never had the chance to meet him and get to know him but it has always amazed me that in the first decades of civil aviation two Roman Catholic priests who were chaplains in Brussels and Paris-Orly airport decided to start what would soon become an international and multifaith movement. Two other things struck me of what I’ve heard about Fr de Meeûs one was in a conversation with I believe Fr Walter Maader during our 50th anniversary conference in Stockholm where I was told he always wanted to innovate and encouraged chaplains and the association to be innovative. It has been a guide for me since. The other thing was, more recently just after learning about his death in a conversation with Mary who insisted on how gentle he was and how much he wanted our association to be open to people of all faith. Had we met we might have had some discussion about such things as the relevance of a legal entity for the IACAC or on us becoming a more professional association and we might have disagreed on those issues. I nevertheless feel very humble and encouraged to follow the footsteps of such a giant. As we honor his memory I hope and pray that we will continue to be inspired by his vision.

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Melbourne IACAC Annual Conference 2019

Those chaplains who were able to travel to Melbbourne for the annual IACAC conference found themselves challenged to think about diversity in our world and how it is reflected in our airports. There was much to consider and reflect upon as well as renew old friendships and make new ones. Conference presentations and photos have been uploaded to the Members Section of the website and are available for members to access. David Gonzalez, Protestant chaplain at Paris-Orly airport (ORY) sent the following reflection on a workshop held at the conference:

How to recharge your batteries in an airport when you work there? This was the question asked at one of the workshops during the Melbourne Conference. How do you renew your spiritual strength? One of the chaplains does Yoga, another one takes time to contemplate the planes taking off in sundown.

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Abbé Xavier de Meeûs d’Argenteuil, 23.12.1924 – 8.12.2019

As an association we owe much to Fr Xavier, chaplain at Brussels Airport, who during 1961 met with Fr Steux from Orly Airport in Paris. Their idea was to bring together those engaged in airport ministry with the aim of mutal support and encouragement. As a result of their discussions ten more chaplains met in Brussels in 1967 and the foundations for the IACAC were laid with their decision to meet annually. They called themselves the Airport Chaplains International. Every year since then, except in 1985, airport chaplains from around the world have come together to share fellowship and learn from each other.

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Meet the New Executive Board

During the IACAC Annual Business Meeting held at Melbourne Conference the new Executive Board was elected and installed.

IACAC Executive Board
left to right: Stephan Pfenninger, Mary Holloway, David Reiser, Romeo Dabee, Pierre de Mareuil, Edward Nambute, Martyn Scrimshaw

President: Rev. Pierre de Mareuil (CDG, FR)
Vice-President: Deacon David Reiser (CLT, USA)
Treasurer: Rev. Romeo Dabee (JFK, USA)
Media Officer: Rev. Stephan Pfenninger Schait (ZRH, CH)
Secretary: Miss Mary Holloway (MEL, AUS)

Host Chaplains:
Capt. Martyn Scrimshaw (MEL, AUS)
Rev. Edward Nambute (NBO, KE)

Nominations were also received for the election of a new Secretary at the Nairobi Conference in 2020. Deacon Jim Martin for St Louis was nominted by Deacon David Reiser and seconded by Canon Liz Hughes.
As his nomination was the only one received, Deacon Jim will be elected unopposed as Secretary in Nairobi.

Training and Development

During the Paris Conference in 2016 Major Peter Hawkins  presented a workshop on the skills and competencies that could be required for an airport chaplain. The Board, led by Vice President Pierre de Mareuil, has continued to work  on defining those skills and competencies. At the bottom if this article there is a download-link to the most recent version of that work. The original list of 60 has been grouped into two categories; Character and Competencies.
Character which is related to one’s own natural ablities and personal experiences
Competencies  which can be acquired through training and education.

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