'Airport priest' honored today for work with travelers

Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Aviation Authority is set to recognize an Orlando priest for his work with travelers at the city's main airport, the Diocese of Orlando said today.

Father Robert Susann has ministered to airport staffers, airline staff and passengers for a decade at Orlando International Airport. The recognition ceremony will be at 2 p.m. today at the Orlando Aviation Authority Board room of the airport.

Susann celebrates Mass two times each Sunday in the airport's small chapel, which is open to people of all faiths. The chapel, which is behind security for gates 1 to 59, is open for the same hours as the airport.

"You don't have a lot of time to minister to people," Susann said. "They're on the go."

Despite increased security at the airport -- and fears about terrorism -- Susann said the job hasn't changed much from what it was when he started 10 years ago.

"It just means I get to know the people more," he said.

One part of his job is trying to figure out which travelers require his ministry and would be receptive to it. He recently saw a woman sitting alone at the airport and approached her. After their five-minute conversation and a blessing, the woman thanked him for easing her stay at the airport, he said.

There are nearly 20,000 employees at Orlando International Airport and nearly 40 million people pass through it each year.

"The ministry at the airport goes under the idea the Church goes where the people are," Susann said.

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