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Atlanta International Airport gets Eucharistic chapel

Sign announces airport chapel

Daniel Fung | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 02/18/23 - updated on 03/23/23

The busiest airport in the world has acquired a quiet space for travelers to spend time with Jesus.

The Real Presence is a reality at the world’s busiest airport.

An interfaith chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta now has the Eucharist reserved in a tabernacle. Travelers, pilots and flight attendants who might have a few minutes before a flight — or any of the 63,000 people who work at the airport — can spend time in quiet prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Atlanta’s Catholic Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmeyer blessed the Eucharistic chapel February 13, just before he himself boarded a flight. 

“It’ll always be a place where people can come and talk and listen and simply just be in the presence of Christ, the risen Lord,” said the archbishop during a prayer service, according to the Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the archdiocese. “What a gift we are able to share with the people from Atlanta and all over the world in this international terminal.”

Installation of the tabernacle came about through the efforts of Hartsfield-Jackson’s chaplains and the cooperation of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Catholic News Agency reported. It is located in the international terminal and will be open 24-7.

All travelers — international or domestic — can access the chapel once they’ve gone through security clearance for their flights. “Shared by people of all faiths, its walls are sparse with no crosses or other religious artifacts,” the Georgia Bulletin reported. “A wall plaque points Muslims in the direction to face Mecca for prayer.”

Next to the tabernacle is a statue of Our Lady of Loreto, patroness of airline pilots and attendants, and of those serving in the Air Force.

Soon a plaque will invite Catholics who come to prayer to open a curtain that normally obscures the view of the tabernacle. 

In addition to the chapel, another — without the Eucharist — is located in the Domestic Terminal. It is open daily for individual reflection and prayer. 

Hartsfield-Jackson has nonstop service to more than 150 domestic and 70 international destinations. Some 93.7 million passengers passed through the airport in 2022. It’s also a major local employer. 

“After receiving approval from the archbishop, the tabernacle was installed in November of last year. But because only travelers and airline workers can get past security to access the chapel, the archbishop was not able to officially bless it until this Monday, shortly before his flight departed,” CNA reported. 

Airport chaplain Fr. Kevin Peek told Catholic News Agency that he offers Mass on Saturday night and Sunday night “for all the travelers in order to give them two opportunities to make their Sunday obligation.” The airport’s three other Catholic chaplains, who are deacons, offer Communion services when a priest is not available to celebrate Mass.

The chapel is being established as the Church in the United States are in the midst of a Eucharistic revival, but Fr. Peek also explained that part of his motivation for working to establish the chapel was personal. His own father, Joseph Peek, was an airline pilot who flew out of Atlanta for many years. The elder Peek had a great devotion to the Eucharist.

Of his efforts to set up a Eucharistic chapel, Fr. Peek said, “I did it really for the airline personnel.”

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