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.

Father Xavier de Meeûs was sadly the second loss we experienced these past weeks and I don’t want to forget Deacon Jean-Pascal Dey from Nice who died after a tragic battle with cancer. We had heard news of his deteriorating health from our friends from Nice during the Melbourne Conference but the news of his death remained a shock.

Our prayers accompany the families, friends and colleagues of these two dear brothers. May the God in whom they had put their trust and in the service of him they dedicated their lives bring their dear ones hope and comfort in time of loss and mourn.


A few weeks ago 51 airport chaplains attended the 52nd Annual Conference of the IACAC in Melbourne. It was the 5th hosted by Melbourne (which shall remain unhallenged for some time I guess). One of the noteworthy aspects of this conference was the high number of new members and new chaplains attending from the various regions. I counted at almost 20! Another remarkable event has been the acceptance of the invitation by the Nairobi for the 2020 Conference. It is remarkable for several reasons, the first being the dedication of the Nairobi team and another one is the fact that we haven’t held a conference on the African continent since 2009 and the Lusaka conference. The team in NBO is preparing a great conference on the theme “Adversity, a bridge to deeper relationship at the airports” which is very promising. The board has experienced Kenya hospitality and witnessed the enthusiasm and involvement of the chaplaincy team and we encourage you to save the date and register as soon as the registration opens.

Encountering diversity

To reflect back on the Conference in Melbourne, it was great not only to listen to great presentations about but also to experience diversity from so many different perspectives: the various faith and experience of the delegates present, the rich presentations which underline the common dreams and experience of our shared humanity despite the vast diversity of socio-cultural backgrounds. One reflection I have particularly kept from Dr. Tim Costello’s presentation is the comparison of airports to the wells of biblical times as central meeting places. In this time where Christians are preparing to celebrate Christmas and the encounter of God and humanity in Jesus Christ and Jews are about to celebrate Hanukkah and the everlasting and renewed light of God amongst his people let me encourage each one of us to be prepared to meet our fellows humans as well as meet our creator through each person we welcome, assist, listen to, counsel, pray for and pray with. I also pray that each of our chaplaincies are and will continue to be a guiding light on the journey of those whose path we are given to come across.

Let me wish a very happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, hag Hanukkah sameah to our Jewish colleagues and friends and a very blessed new year to all, may the everlasting light of hope shine on you even in the most troubled and uncertain hour!


Rev Pierre de Mareuil
IACAC President
CDG Paris