Value your volunteers!

The Meditation Centre at Schiphol cannot function without its volunteers. Every year in May the board and the chaplains offer them a day away from the hastiness of the airport to relax and enjoy themselves. On May 15th, a sunny Amsterdam welcomed 30 participants – among them partners and other invitees. Coffee and pastries were served in the Museum ‘Ons' lieve Heer op Solder’, a former hidden Catholic Church. A precious example of the two centuries of continuation of the celebration of the Eucharist in Amsterdam during the Protestant domination of the capital. Lunch was served by the students of the ROC in their café ‘Rocks’, an impressive and high-quality meal, that touched tongues and hearts. A canal tour and closing drinks made the day memorable for all.

The Meditation Centre in Schiphol is the respectful and attractive place because of the presence and generous care of our volunteers. We cannot value them enough.

General Secretary of Protestant Church of The Netherlands visits the Airport Chaplaincy

Sunday May 5th, General Secretary of the PCN (Dutch: PKN) visited the Airport Chaplaincy. He was joined by Mrs. Hilde van Koppen, secretary of the Board of the General Synod and they both brought their spouses. They attended the Sunday Service in the Meditation Centre. Many passengers and visitors participated in the liturgy and after the service a vibrant exchange started between everyone, travelers, guests, chaplains, volunteers and board members. Among them a young female passenger hugged the pastor. She said she was speechless and also didn’t master English that much, being of South-American background. Full of tears, she picked one of the carnation flowers she carried on her back and gave it to the chaplain. This is one of the many tokens of appreciation the chaplaincy receives on a daily basis. Some attenders had shared a prayer request in the service and were prayed for by the pastor. They spoke to René, Hilde and board members this was meaningful to them. The atmosphere was full of gratitude, interconnectedness and attentive listening.

The chaplains invited the General Secretary and his wife Marike, the Board Secretary and her husband Frans for lunch. The visit of René and Hilde of the Airport Chaplaincy at Schiphol was tremendously inspiring and enriching. The team of chaplains, volunteers and the board felt truly supported in their work at the airport by the time spent together.

From left to right: chaplain Mark Hafkenscheid, Frans van Koppen, Hilde van Koppen, chaplain Marieke Meiring, vrijwilliger Janny Brevoord, Marike de Reuver, René de Reuver.

Introduction chaplain Fons Litjens

In January, February and March 2024 I will stand in for Father Gerard Timmermans, who’s on work leave. The board of the Roman Catholic Airport Chaplaincy Foundation Schiphol has appointed me in order to continue the pastoral care for passengers. I will be available on Thursdays and Fridays weekly.

I retired from my work as a parish deacon in 2021 after serving in many different cities in the Netherlands. I was ordained in 2007 by the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. I am grateful for the years I was able to minister to those who crossed my path.

After my retirement I looked for new areas and new challenges, offering my skills as a volunteer and that’s how I came to know about the Airport Chaplaincy work at Schiphol. The voluntary work done at the Meditation Centre suits me very well. I like to host others in a quiet place of meditation and prayer. Meanwhile I have started my PhD which focuses on the connection between psalms and art.

I was born in Maastricht (Limburg, south-Netherlands), am married to Fieke Klaver and we currently live in Haarlem. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a gateway to the world and the next couple of months I hope to be a support for people in whatever kind of need. Together with two experienced colleagues, Mark Hafkenscheid and Marieke Meiring, it will succeed. ‘Es God bleef’, is a dear Limburgian saying for: ‘If it’s pleasing to God’.

Christmas Eve near the Meditation Centre, behind security

For the ones who are travelling through Schiphol Airport on Christmas Eve, do not miss the opportunity to get a touch of Christmas in a short celebration in Lounge 2. This service can only be attended by checked-in passengers, passengers in transit or staff who are on duty on Christmas Eve. A selection of Christmas carols will be sung, we will read the Nativity story and a short Christmas message will be given by one of the chaplains. Musicians of the KLM-orchestra will participate in this event. Due to the overwhelming attendance of last year, the celebration will be held on the internet court in front of the Meditation centre. Afterwards a hot drink and Christmas stollen will be served to you. The event starts at 6.30 pm on the second floor in Lounge 2. The chaplaincy and its volunteers offer you a warm welcome! 

On Christmas Day, the 25th of December, 2023, the Airport Chaplaincy offers a Christmas service. You are welcome to join us in the Meditation Centre at 11.00 am, even if your time is short and you would need to leave early.

The Airport Chaplaincy wishes you happy holidays! 
Pastors Marieke Meiring (left) and Joop Albers (right).

IACAC Conference in St. Louis, Missouri

‘You’re helping people to get home,’ the bus driver summarizes on his way to the conference venue. This is the work done by airport chaplains day after day. Being able to find the colleague of another airport helps, so bereaved passengers will again be assisted upon their arrival. During the last week of October, airport chaplains from many different airports came together for their yearly conference in St. Louis. A rabbi of police spoke about emergency response by a chaplaincy team. And, in these times, an interfaith dinner is maybe even more important than ever, for people of different world views to meet and connect. The invitation for the dinner was kindly extended to the IACAC chaplains by the interfaith partnership of St. Louis University. Lots of bonds were created or renewed. Next year the team of Frankfurt chaplaincy will host the conference.

A visit to the Airport Chaplaincy at Schiphol

On Saturday September 30th, a delegation of the Protestant church of Halfweg-Zwanenburg visited the Airport Chaplaincy at Schiphol. Three volunteers and one of the chaplains welcomed fifteen church committee members for an information session and a visit to the Meditation Centre behind security. The visitors were very interested and asked many questions like: how can people find you if they need help? Can you solve every problem? What are the chores of the volunteers? Many touching and surprising stories the chaplains face, were told. Including how they managed to get people home. Does your congregation wish to visit the Airport Chaplaincy? Send a message contact form with your request.

Ordination of Mark Hafkenscheid to the Priesthood

On Saturday, July 1st the Rev. Mark Hafkenscheid, Curate at St. Mary’s and Airport Chaplain at Schiphol, has been ordained to the Priesthood by the Rt. Rev. Dr. David Hamid, the Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese in Europe of the Church of England. Many witnessed and celebrated this joyful service in St. Mary’s Church in Rotterdam, which marks a milestone for Mark and his family. The ordination also brings a change for the Airport Chaplaincy at Schiphol. The assistance given by Rev. Joop Albers with regards to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist has come to an end, as Mark is ordained to minister the sacraments to the people, both gathered in church or at the airport. Read more.

Read travellers' stories in the new annual report

‘The pleasure of welcoming friends from afar knows no bounds’. These words mark the cover of the Airport Chaplaincy’s annual report of 2022. It was the year the world gradually started to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but not for everybody. At Schiphol a group of passengers still got stuck at the airport, during weeks or months they had to live on the piers and in the lounge. The Airport Chaplaincy felt compassionate about these travellers and worked together with the airport to mitigate their situation. How do you survive a long stay in a terminal? Read the story of Mr. Hui and his children, one ten-year-old and a toddler of three.

Harp music on Pentecost Sunday

This Sunday, 28th of May, the chaplaincy happily welcomes harpist Aimée van Delden in the Meditation Centre of Schiphol. In the beginning of 2023, one of the chaplains met her at a regional meeting and the plan for a combined church service was born. Harp music will attribute warmth and purity to the serenity of the Meditation Centre and will be enjoyable even more on a festive day like Pentecost. The service starts at 11.00 hours, but you are most welcome to walk in earlier.