A San Francisco deacon is providing an innovative ministry, one of both inspiration and consolation.
Details, from Catholic San Francisco:
Each week in San Francisco, 25 or more people die from suicide, homicides, accidents or other sudden causes, leaving survivors so traumatized they are thrust into a kind of desperate, altered state.
They need immediate help, particularly consolation that police and other first responders often can’t provide – they have other work to do – amid crisis.
In fact, there are cadres of volunteers in major West Coast cities providing just that service – on-scene personal support. The newest chapter, S.F. Crisis Care, is now forming in San Francisco, directed by Christoph Sandoval, a deacon for the past six years at Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption and a veteran health care executive and counselor of people with terminal illnesses.
Sandoval’s new role is nonsectarian. There won’t be any proselytizing of survivors in critical junctures of their lives. But the skill set Sandoval will be utilizing is the same he exercised when he began his career as a volunteer at Shanti Project in San Francisco, the first agency in the nation providing direct service to people with AIDS/HIV, then as director of clinics for the Santa Clara County Health Department and as director of the Multicultural AIDS Resource Center of California and doing other non-profit and for-profit work.
Sandoval is already providing Crisis Care-like service at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption: He is a spiritual support group facilitator, assisting people newly diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and for family, friends and caregivers.
“There is a psychic wound to the soul that happens at the moment of a tragic loss,” said Sandoval, a 62-year-old San Franciscan. “It creates a moment in which all belief systems and assumptions about life collapse, and I see an opportunity through the breakdown – and opportunity for a breakthrough to answer some of the essential questions about the life experience.”