President’s Letter | December 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I write these lines, the months long of celebrations have begun with Thanksgiving in the United States, Advent and Hannukah everywhere else. Soon will come the time of the Mahayana Bodhi Day (enlightenment of the Buddha) as well as Christmas. Our cities and airports are getting decorated by thousands of lights and the special mood of the season is growing on us. Lights in dark ages can have a very specific meaning. A sign of hope we desperately need as the COVID pandemic continues to threaten humanity with new waves and variants, more borders closing, more flights being canceled. Light might very well be the universal symbol of hope. But what kind of light represents better true hope? We sometimes think that light chases away the darkness which is true to some extent. Our modern lights do that. A simple lamp lightens a whole room or an entire block in our streets. But these lights, if you look at them directly, also dazzle you. It can also disorient animals who confuse them for the sun or stars. Those light can be misleading if we take them for the symbol of hope.

Hope is more like a simple candle or an oil lamp. It brings light in darkness but it doesn’t glare, it brings comfort but it doesn’t erase the conscience that darkness are around, it gives a good landmark but doesn’t mislead, it brings a sense of warmth but it is also fragile, a simple air stream and it’s gone. Likewise, true hope is fragile. It is comforting but not triumphant. It shows a path but doesn’t delude. More importantly, true hope finds it place amid anguish and fear, help us look beyond the circumstances but doesn’t pretend that troubles are over or will never come back. True hope is humble.

During our Conference in Nairobi Cpt Gilbert Kibbe reminded us of what he had already told us las year: “chaplains are the face of hope in crisis”. As I write these lines, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is threatening the planet and the current crisis seems to be never ending. What face of hope are we to be when around us as well as on our airports so many people are losing hope? Telling people that eventually everything will be alright or preaching a victorious message that through faith will be overcome might not be the best response we can bring to the table. Of course, both are true to some extent but need to be experienced confronting the hardships of life and lived through better than avoided. The biggest threat to hope, I believe, is not discouragement, it’s the illusion of a false promises that are like those big lights that give us the impression of seeing clearly but burn our wings as they do to insects they mislead towards them instead of showing the way.

As chaplains, believers and simply as human beings, I believe we can be simple and fragile witnesses of this hope that gives us the strength to live though anguish and times of crisis. Fragile yet comforting. A simple presence that reminds people who need it that there is a way out of darkness.

This is my wishes for each one of you, your loved ones and the people on whose path you will be led particularly during this season of celebrations.

Pierre de Mareuil,

IACAC President

Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport


1st -7th Third to Eighth Day of Chanukah- Judaism
4th & 5th – Rosh Chodesh, new month of Tevet-Judaism
5th Second Sunday of Advent- Christianity
8th – Bodhi Day –Buddhism (Solar Calendar)
12th Third Sunday of Advent – Christianity
14th Fast of Tenth of Tevet –Judaism
19th Fourth Sunday of Advent- Christianity
24th Christmas Eve- Christianity
25th Christmas Day – Christianity
26th St Stephen’s Day – Christianity

3rd Rosh Chodesh, new month of Tevet- Judaism
6th Epiphany- Christianity
7th Nativity- Orthodox – Christianity
9th Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh JI – Sikhism
10th Bodhi Day – Buddhism (Lunar Calendar)
13th Tu B’Shevat- New Year for Trees- Judaism
13th Maghi – Sikhism
14th -17th Pongal – Hinduism
18th -20th Mahhayana New Year- Buddhism