Dear Friends and Colleagues,
What a tremendous time we had together on October 20th for our Online Conference! It felt amazing to be connected with so many colleagues from all over the world (including Asia which is exceptional for our conference). And how good it is to feel enthusiastic about anything in these very dark times. As I have written in a previous letter, one of the very positive things in this crisis is the creativity developed in faith communities to maintain some kind of fellowship despite the impossibility to meet face to face.
This Online Conference was our way of showing this creativity and it has been extremely rewarding. We had many new chaplains and people who are not used to connect to the IACAC and also the opportunity to learn from fascinating speakers from 4 different continents whom each had some extremely interesting things to share with us and have been amazingly encouraging to us. If you hadn’t registered or haven’t had time to view the several videos of this first Online Conference you can access them on our website at https://www.iacac.aero/conf-prep/ which also includes the live presentation we had with Geoffrey Thomas as well as the full interviews used for the videos on the challenges on the aviation industry and the value of airport chaplaincy. In total that’s more than 4 hours of quality presentations, interviews and interactions with our special guests so take the time to watch them.
Reflecting on this unique experience and the privilege it was for me to supervise this Conference I realized that there was one thing missing: a deeper spiritual time. There was a lot of spirituality in what each of our guest shared and I think Kathy Malcom Hall’s session was particularly deep in that sense, but we could have thought of a more specifically spiritual time.
Let me make it up to you by sharing some personal thoughts on the spiritual dimension of ministry and airport chaplaincy. I was deeply inspired those past days by the thoughts of a French pastor who wrote an article on being a pastor in lockdown. In a very short summary James Woody says that after having put much energy in reorganizing the church services and meetings in order, as I mentioned earlier, to maintain some kind of fellowship and beyond being an organizer and a facilitator of the church’s life (a role that could be played by other members) what remains specific to the role of pastors (and we can include airport chaplains as pastors or pastoral agents) is to bring people to a face to face meeting with God. Isn’t this a wonderful definition of our role as chaplains?
But isn’t it also a great reminder of our mission. Maybe you are like me and sometimes the passion for the airport, the people who live through it, with it or in it makes you forget that you are an ambassador of the Creator in this specific place and spirituality is limited to specific times, services, celebrations or request of prayer. How do you and I help people of so many faiths, spiritualities, convictions come to that intimate encounter with God? I believe this question becomes particularly accurate in this difficult time when so many things we used to take for granted such as life, health, work… etc. suddenly become so vulnerable and thus so valued. There are many ways in which we can help those whom our paths come across and I’m sure you would have a thousand examples (and I’d love you to share them) but I believe it all starts within each one of us and how we connect to our Creator and reflect this connection around us.
May we feel renewed in this connection in the coming weeks which will be a time of spiritual awaiting and longing for many of us who will soon enter into Advent. Then will come the time of Hanuka and Christmas which are both celebrations of a miracle of God’s presence among his people and celebrations of awaited and finally answered prayers.
Pierre de Mareuil, President
Holy Days Of The Month – Sharing and Celebrating Our Traditions
24th – Martyrdom of Gru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Sikh
26th – Thanksgiving USA
29th – First Sunday of Advent. Christian
30th – St Andrews Day. Christian
30th – guru Nanak Birthday. Sikh
30th – Kartik Poornima. Hindu
6th St Nicholas Day. Christian
8th – Bodhi Day. Buddhist
11th – Hanukkah begins. Jewish
15th – Dhanu Sankranti. Hindu
18th – Hanakkuh ends. Jewish
24th – Christmas Eve. Christian
25th – Christmas Day. Christian
25th – Geeta Jayanti. Hindu
26th – Stephen’s Day. Christian
28th – Holy Innocents. Christian
31st – Watch Night. Christian