President’s Letter | January 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It would be fair to say that 2020 has been a year in which many of the things we took granted have been challenged and, maybe for many, became out of reach. It has been time calling for patience, courage and sacrifice in a way we may not have been asked to do before.  There has been a profound sense of loss in all walks of life. But there has been an up side. There have been opportunities to find new ways of doing things. Who would have thought that so many of us would become so proficient at attending meetings, going to church, socialising and sharing family celebrations through the medium of online apps. Our computers or smart phones have become our best friends.

Our world is shrinking. Within minutes of it happening social media, the press, TV and radio bring graphic details of disasters from all around the world. We are instantly able to share the horrors, the highs and lows of what is happening with those who are suffering. This is clearly illustrated by the constant updates we receive about the spread of the corona virus and the development of vaccines which we can only hope and pray that  will help bring relief from this terrible pandemic.

 Communications are so swift that great cities and small villages are like next-door neighbours. Since the growth of cities following the Industrial Revolution, a culture has developed where people live in one place, work in another, have their leisure all over the world and worship, if they do, in a religious community of their choice. Rarely do the people with whom they associate in each activity overlap. As chaplains working in the airports of the world we see this only too well as we minister to the people who pass through the terminals.

 But this shrinking world also has an advantage for us. We are rapidly able to provide support and help to refugees arriving from war torn countries or counselling and an arm to lean on to grieving or distressed travellers, or just a friendly welcome to a happy holidaymaker. We can do this because of our ability to communicate quickly with each other. Without our rapid means of communication we would not know how much our prayers are needed. Our links to each other also allow us to share in each other’s lives and support each other through the good and bad times

Despite the strange world we found ourselves, this new way of communicating became a medium to include others with whom no contact has been possible in the past. Perhaps as we look into the future, we are about to embark upon a dual channel journey where we can combine an online and a physical presence component into many activities. As we look forward can we continue to combine our two track journey and become a more inclusive society.

As we rebuild our post COVID lives we can look backwards for help and inspiration. It is a time for the keeping of memories both of the past and the present and use our new found skills to ensure we stay connected. It is a time to remember that the world has changed and we must face the future with courage.  Travel for many, especially at this time has been restricted and is very stressful for  families unable to be together

 In closing I would like to quote in part from our  COVID 19 Statement last year.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a global tragedy. Described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic since 11 March, not only has it affected millions of people worldwide and killed many more. It is drastically affecting the economy and specifically the global aviation economy. Tens of thousands of flights are being cancelled and planes grounded. Airports have closed terminals in an effort to adapt and reduce their costs and some airports have even temporally cancelled all operations. Chapels and prayer rooms have also been closed in many airports.

The financial loss for many airlines has been huge and some airlines have not survived this crisis. This is an unprecedented crisis in the world of aviation and airport industry. Not even the aftermath of the dramatic 9/11 attacks in New York matches such a disastrous impact.

As a global body of chaplains from a variety of faiths the IACAC again wishes to express its solidarity with airlines, airports and the whole aviation industry. Although many countries are taking specific measures to support their economy, the IACAC expresses its concerns that those the most impacted by this crisis will be the lowest income and most fragile workers in airports and airlines worldwide.

The IACAC encourages its members and every airport chaplain to continually offer their support to passengers and staff alike, be a kind presence in the midst of this turmoil. We continue to offer our sincere and ongoing prayer for each person affected by the disease and its economic consequences. We particularly ask the Creator of all things for guidance and wisdom for the leaders of our countries, airlines, airports and of the entire aviation industry as they deal with this dramatic crisis.”

Once again, the Board thanks you all for the work you and your team  do in your chaplaincies. Your presence in and around the airport helps to give comfort and support to airport workers and travellers alike.

Pierre de Mareuil
Paris-Charles de Gaulle


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