President’s Letter | September 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

What a tremendous 3 years we’ve got through!
Yes, these 3 years as President of the IACAC (and 4 before that as Vice-President including to as Host chaplain) will remain in my heart as a very memorable time and the honor of my life!

Just a few weeks after I took office, after the Melbourne Conference in October 2019, the COVID19 pandemic started and soon became a global crisis. Lockdowns were enforced on the population of most countries; air traffic collapsed, which forced the aviation industry to shut down most of its activities and airports, closed most of their terminals. Many of us were confined in our homes for several weeks and sometimes months. During all that time my question was “what can I do for our members and fellow airport chaplains?” With the Board as well as the involvement of several members from different parts of the world we organized various online sessions to share our experiences, hope and fears as well as, for the first time, an online conference. Through these means we kept in touch and even got closer to one another and develop our network reaching to some of you who don’t usually have the opportunity to attend our annual conferences. I also tried to give to this monthly letter a reflective and pastoral tone, which, I hope, has brought some support to those who needed it.

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President’s Letter | August 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to live together in harmony! (Psalm 133)

The summer holidays season of the Northern hemisphere has hit the planet and airports again after a 3 years hiatus. Families are coming together and reuniting, tourists are discovering again new destinations and meeting new people.

Air travels are bringing again possibilities of enriching encounters and harmony in a world that desperately needs it when wars are raging in different parts of the globe separating families and friends. Air travel contributes to build bridges between people and cultures where conflicts and political shrinking builds walls of rejections and hatred. It feels great to see our airports filled again, doesn’t it? It feels like a blessing (sometime an overflowing one!) although we must admit that the crowds who tend to have forgotten about the specific rules and requirements of air travel and airports added to lack of staff in airlines and airports makes the experience a little less harmonious than we wished it were.

But that’s where we come as airport chaplains! We are a very small and humble part of the rich and complex airport environment. But we certainly are a drop of oil in these incredible gear systems facilitating the journey of lost passengers whom we help and put back on the right track so that they could fly to the heavens!

On this regard, the very nice story that was shown on Australian TV with our colleague (and incoming IACAC President) Martyn Scrimshaw and Melbourne chaplaincy was a perfect example To view the film clip go to Melbourne Airport Chaplaincy Facebook page).

Humbly being there to help, guide and comfort those who need it is at the core of our ministry and how we become blessings to others. That is how we become like the fragrant oil and the refreshing dew that are mentioned in Psalm 133. Are we aware of the many blessings we share every day? As you read these lines I invite you to pause for a minute and remind yourself of a few people you were a blessing to in the past few days.

Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to live together in harmony!

It will soon be time for us to receive the blessing of meeting again for our annual conference in London Heathrow. Learning together and from one another, meeting old friends, making new ones, enriching the harmony of our fellowship are the main benefits of our annual conferences. We had a great time last year in Nairobi but due to the pandemic and economic situation, most international delegates were unable to attend. This year, the number of people who has already registered is promising but there’s room for more! So, don’t wait, register and join us in LHR!

Pierre de Mareuil (CDG)

President’s Letter | March/April 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues.
It is always worthwhile to ponder the truth of the often quoted observation that the world is now like a global village. What happens in one part of the world ripples like a wave on the water across the rest of the world touching all in its path. Nothing else brought this home more clearly than the effect of the worldwide pandemic from which we are emeging and grief and tragedy at the loss amd disruption of so many lives.

Chaplains often have a role in meeting and supporting vulnerable passengers who have become stranded for a variety of reasons. This has never been more so than in the past two years. Exercising this ministry of service to an airport community, means that sometimes (often!) we simply put ourselves at the disposal of those whom we serve, and if there is a crisis which requires an urgent response, then we need to respond.

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President’s Letter | January 2022

Dear Friends across the Globe
Greetings from Australia to you all.
Pierre asked if I would write the opening letter for this month’s Newsletter and I thought it would be a good practice for what lies ahead.  I am taking the time to listen, reflect and meditate on how the Association can be of value to you each and support Airport Chaplaincy in your space especially as our industry starts the long and bumpy road to recovery from the devastating impact of this Pandemic.
My prayer is that you will be sustained and encouraged in your place as you minister to staff and passengers and bring emotional and spiritual care.
Recently as part of the induction process for the new organisation I work for I had to attend a training session on Grief and Loss.  I was asked to lead the opening devotions and as I prepared I came across this heading on my daily devotions, “It Can’t Be Carried Alone”.
One of my favourite devotion writers is Father Richard Rohr.  He always seems to speak into where I am and reminds me regularly of the need to slow down, to even stop and spend time alone with God.  In this devotion he spoke about the fact that suffering and loss cannot be carried alone.  I am thankful that in the heat of this pandemic the private Facebook page was created where we could come and share some of our concerns, struggles and pain and found support from chaplains in all sorts of circumstances.  It was a reminder that we are not alone and can reach out to each other.

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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.

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