Participants in the fifteenth World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members were received this morning in audience by the Holy Father. Their patron, the Pope recalled, is Our Lady of Loreto who is also the patron saint of all air travelers, in accordance with the tradition that attributes to the angels the transportation of Mary’s house from Nazareth to Loreto, Italy.
The seminar is reflecting on new methods and new forms of evangelization in the field in which the chaplains exercise their ministry, and the Pope encouraged them always to be “conscious that you are called to embody in the world’s airports the Church’s mission of bringing God to man and leading man to the encounter with God.
“Airports”, he added, “are places that increasingly reflect the globalised reality of our time. Here one finds people of a wide variety of nationalities, cultures, religions, social status and age. One also comes across all manner of difficult human situations that demand increasing attention. I think, for example, of people waiting anxiously as they seek to pass through border controls without the necessary documentation, either as immigrants or asylum seekers. I think of the inconvenience caused by anti-terrorism security measures. … This is the human and spiritual environment in which you are called to proclaim the Good News with renewed vigor by your words, by your presence, by your example and by the witness you bear. Be assured that even in chance encounters, people are able to recognize a man of God, and that often a small seed falling on good soil can bring forth abundant fruit”.
The Pope went on: “In airports, moreover, you have daily contact with a great many men and women who work in an environment marked by continuous mobility and constant technological development, both of which tend to obscure the centrality of the human person. Often more attention is paid to efficiency and productivity than to the love of neighbor and the solidarity that should always characterize human relations.
Here too, your presence is of great value and importance: it is a living witness to a God Who is close to human beings, and it serves as a reminder never to show indifference to those one meets, but to treat them generously and lovingly. I encourage you to be radiant signs of this charity of Christ which brings serenity and peace”, the Holy Father concluded.
Editor’s Note: We are grateful for the ministry of Father Robert Susann, M.S., who serves as airport chaplain for travelers and staff of the Orlando International Airport.