President’s Letter | September 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As we approach our annual conference with the perspective of meeting a few colleagues in Nairobi plus many more online, I’ve been thinking of how we, as airport chaplains, have been going through  this pandemic and global crisis since the beginning of 2020. One thing that struck me for most of 2020 was the strong impression that we were in this together. The planet and humanity as a whole was facing the same struggle and was traumatized by the abruptness of the tens and hundreds of thousands of death, the lockdowns and, regarding the aviation industry the closing of terminals and airports. None of us could have imagined such a thing a few months before this terrible crisis. Living the same situation at the same time made us realize that we really were in the same boat and how much our globalized world is interdependent. It also gave us a sense of a need to get closer to one another and we multiplied the opportunities for zoom meetings and phone calls at the local, regional or international level. We’ve actually never seen each other as much as during this extremely strange time and it has been a wonderful way to connect with new colleagues or colleagues we had never met before. 

It has been a year of strengthening our bonds in our global community of airport chaplains. Here in Paris we organized, for the first time, a BBQ as soon as we were allowed to in June 2020. We’ve renewed the experience this year and hopefully this will become a tradition. What I am trying to say with this is that through the difficulty and with the strong sense of facing the same challenge and belonging to the same global community we actually created new opportunities to meet, share, educate and fellowship together. These are some of the main objectives of our association and I am extremely thankful for what we’ve accomplished together.

But this year the situation has changed. The sense of unity in our world has been challenged, divisions seem to be growing not only between nations but also inside our nations, religious congregations and even in our own families. The crisis continues but countries are facing it extremely differently. Vaccines are being produced at a speed never previously seen but distributed very inequitably with the wealthiest nations paying the price to cover the needs of their own population with little consideration for the nations that don’t have the power and finances to negotiate with pharmaceutic compagnies (one might argue that the wealthy nations are generously giving millions of doses to less wealthy ones, but that doesn’t even start to cover the needs). I don’t want to start a debate about international or national politics, my only point is to point the fact that after a time of unity humanity might now be facing one of the most divisive time of its history.

As a matter of fact, civil aviation has always been about getting people together, uniting families, trading, exploring the world. It’s all about encounters between peoples and cultures. The airports we serve are places of encounters, human and cultural crossroads. Our ministry of presence in the midst of these places now filled with never seen before financial struggles or challenging journey is one that brings unity and hope. As we approach our annual conference with, this year (and probably the coming years) it is a hybrid reality with about 30 attending onsite in Nairobi and many more attending online (it’s still time to register!), I hope we can renew our unity as a global community, experience a renewed fellowship and continue to learn together and from one another. The global aviation and airport industry and community needs us, strong, willing and available, now more than ever!

Pierre de Mareuil

HOLY DAYS for October

6th & 7th Rosh Chodesh, New Month of Chesvan- Judaism

6th -14th Navaratri –Hinduism

15th Dussehra – Hinduism

18th Mawlid al-Nabi -Islam

20th Conferment of Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib- Sikhism