We tend to think of chaplains as being assigned primarily to hospitals or military bases — but you will also find them at some of America’s busiest airports.
And — increasingly — they are deacons.
From Florida Catholic:
It’s lunchtime, and Daniel Dooling is sitting in the chapel at Miami International Airport, reading his Bible. A few seats away, Vera Philoctete fingers a rosary.
Philoctete works in Miami-Dade Aviation’s protocol department. Dooling is a property manager in the commercial operations division.
They are praying in a place most travelers cannot find very easily: The airport’s nondenominational chapel – also known as a meditation room – on the fourth floor of Concourse B, next to the bank and the post office.
“It is a bastion for us who want to get away during lunch and be in the presence of God, to find peace in our day,” said Dooling. “Because it does get hectic out there.”
The bustling terminals of Miami International see an average of nearly 34 million passengers a year – between 90,000 and 100,000 daily – and employ more than 35,000 people. It is the third-busiest U.S. airport in both numbers of international passengers and total freight – “a city unto itself,” according to Deacon Dennis Jordan, a retired state employee who has served as chaplain at Miami International since 1999.
Although travelers might think airport chapels and chaplains are there for them, they are actually there to serve the employees “who work such odd hours,” Deacon Jordan said. “The idea is to serve this airport community with the fringe benefit of serving the general public at the same time. And when there’s loss, sorrow, we’re there.”
Deacon Jordan and his counterpart at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Deacon Chandy Luka, are part of a Catholic Civil Aviation Apostolate that began at Boston’s Logan Airport in 1950. Today, according to the group, more than 100 airport chapels in 50 nations offer pastoral care to employees and travelers, including 31 in the United States.
Check out the link for more.
Photo: Deacon Dennis Jordan, at Miami International Airport. Photo by Ana Rodriguez-Soto, Florida Catholic