Airport Chapels

The Lead

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.

At O’Hare Airport, and also at Midway, there’s a regular schedule:

Catholic Devotions at O’Hare Chapel

  • Thursdays: 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. (note: transferred to Fridays during Lent)
  • Catholic Mass weekdays at O’Hare Chapel: Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m.
  • Catholic Mass on Sunday at O’Hare Chapel: 6:30, 9:00, 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Catholic Mass at Midway Chapel

  • Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m.;
  • 4:00 p.m. Saturday; and 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Sunday

Islamic Prayer at O’Hare Chapel

  • Friday, 1:15 p.m.

Protestant Worship at O’Hare Chapel

  • Sunday 10:00 a.m. and Noon

Protestant Worship at Midway Chapel

  • Sunday 10:00 a.m. and Noon.

The phone number for more information is 773-686-2636.

Airport chapels, and chaplains, are important for a variety of reasons – most people never know they’re there, until they really, really need them:

Chapels have mostly been organized by Catholics and Protestants but welcome people of all faiths. New York John F. Kennedy has the country’s only airport synagogue. O’Hare’s chapel has services for Muslims. Chaplains say they’re not there to convert.

Travel chaplains may be most visible at times of crisis, such as a plane crash. But normally they tend to everyday issues: Reassuring a nervous flier; comforting a grieving widow; praying for a family sending their son to Iraq, or helping a traveler clear security with an urn filled with a loved one’s ashes.

And there’s the occasional wedding or marriage intervention. Chaplain Brett Jones at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport recalls last year helping a woman who changed her mind after throwing her husband out. Jones tracked down the husband, who was connecting flights at Bush, to let him know that his wife would take him back.

There are difficulties to be overcome with the church and state establishment clause, but most airport chaplaincies overcome them by incorporating as nonprofits, with a tendency toward interfaith rather than denominational uses for the chapels.

[tags]Travel, prayer, airports, chapels[/tags]


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