The Bushfire Catastrophe in Australia

For many weeks and, in fact months now, devastaing fires have raged across the east coast of Australia destroying people’s homes and livelihoods, burning millions of hectares of bush, farmland and towns, taking lives and killing our wild life and farm animals. Most of these fires have startrd as a result of lightning strikes but sadly some of these fires have been deliberately lit.

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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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