Fr. Michael G. Zaniolo, STL, CAC
Re-elected President of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains


Fr. Michael G. Zaniolo, STL, CAC was re-elected president of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains at its annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 15, 2008.  Fr. Zaniolo is chaplain of Chicago O'Hare and Midway International Airports.  "I am both honored and humbled that the airport chaplains from around the country have chosen me to continue leading the NCCAC," Zaniolo said. 

A native of Chicago, Fr. Michael was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1988.  He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology degree and is a Certified Airport Chaplain.  He was an electrical engineer before entering the seminary.  His engineering background gives him an instant rapport with many airport and airlines workers.   Modern technology is being incorporated into just about everything in an airport and airplanes.  "This is an exciting time to be an airport chaplain," he said, noting that many people are also fearful about the future of the airline industry. 

The NCCAC board members are Fathers Zaniolo (ORD/MDW), Jack Fitzgerald, CAC (PIT), Bede Jagoe, OP, CAC (MDW), Philip Majka (IAD), Glenn O'Connor (IND), Deacons Charles Doerpers, CAC (CLE), and Dennis Jordan, CAC (MIA).  Sr. Myrna Tordillo, coordinator of Human Mobility Apostolates for the USCCB is a liaison to the board.   His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago is the former NCCAC Episcopal Liaison. 

Each chaplain submitted a report about their chaplaincy. The certification committee reported that four chaplains completed the requirements to be a Certified Airport Chaplain. We had educational sessions about human trafficking, Growing your Airport Chaplaincy (organizing and fund raising for an airport chaplaincy), and a conversation with the author of the book "Reclaiming the Sky".  

There are currently about 50 Catholic airport chaplains working in over 30 airports around the nation.  "Our plans include recruitment of new members, helping bishops to establish or expand their airport chaplaincies, and fund raising for the purpose of training and certifying priests, deacons and lay airport chaplains," Fr. Zaniolo said in his inaugural address. 

Airport chaplains duties vary from airport to airport.  Chicago has one full-time chaplain and several priests available to hear confessions and celebrate the Eucharist, as well as three deacons and several lay volunteers who assist at the twenty weekly Masses.  "I hear confessions every day, said Fr. Zaniolo. "With 50,000 airport employees and tens of thousands of travelers passing through daily, the airport is fertile ground for ministry to anyone who needs to talk about what is going on in their lives." 

For more information on airport chapels visit