Airport chaplains

Howie Aiden, an Anglican priest and airport chaplain at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam describes his airport ministry in the Times:

The work of an airport chaplain is a never-ending stream of intense personal encounters followed by silence, the void being filled with hopeful prayer that each individual will continue to find the help and support they need once they have moved on from here. Only twice in my time at Schiphol have those whom I have helped written or returned to let me know how they are doing.

Initially it surprised me how much death and bereavement are part of the chaplaincy’s work. Airports are not keen to advertise it, but there are a good number of passengers who die on inbound flights or at the terminal. Travel is stressful; heart problems are commonplace. Accidents and suicides, though not frequent, do occur. And on average two Dutch citizens a day die while abroad, their remains often being repatriated in the company of family or friends. At Schiphol the chaplains are authorised to take up to five meeters and greeters through the security checks to the arriving airplane, so that the bereaved can be met away from the busy arrivals hall.

There is a brighter side, too. Sunday services are an enjoyable mix of nations and denominations, the Church drawn together from the four corners of the Earth, only to be scattered again within hours. People who would otherwise never enter each other’s churches share the Peace, and mean it. They also learn that they can share space with people of other faiths, praying or worshipping as they do in the one interfaith meditation centre.

Read it all here.

I have noticed chapels at various airports across thw world, but have never met an airport chaplain. Have you?

Posted by
Category : The Lead

Comment Policy
Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted. We also ask that you limit your comments to no more than four comments per story per day.

One Comment
  1. I have never seen a chaplain but have heard services announced when traveling on Sundays. To me the most welcoming airport chapel is at the Oslo airport. A peaceful island in the midst of a busy aiport. Almost stark in decor with a black and white painting in the style of Mark Rothko. The low table has a copy of the Jewish and Christian Bibles, the Qur’an, and scriptures or readings from other religious traditions.

Comments are closed.