Meet the deacon who is a fire department chaplain

From California comes this brief Q&A with Deacon Larry Modugno, lead chaplain for the Ventura County Fire Department:

Q: How do you handle your work?

A: We know we’re there to help people. It’s really a ministry of presence. It’s just being there. We help people through it. We see terrible things, but we help people through it.

Q: All of us probably have known someone who’s going through something terrible. And usually we don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions?

A: People are looking for a good listener, not someone who’s going to give them wonderful advice. … Take time to listen to them. That’s what anyone needs.

Q: I imagine you must need a break from that grief. What do you do when you’re not working?

A: I’m on call 24/7. I get called all the time. I try to see my wife once in a while. Sometimes I know when I’m up to here and need to get away. When I was in the Navy, I served in Hawaii. I love Hawaii. I do know when I need to get away.

Q: And who do you talk to when you need to talk with someone?

A: I have a spiritual director. We can talk to each other. We know what we go through.

Q: Does your faith play a role in your work?

A: We never go out representing any faith at all. We never proselytize. Our job is to provide the resources they need. But unless we have a strong faith in our Creator, in what’s going to happen to us when we die, I don’t think it’s possible to give that support in what we do. That person has a soul. They’re in your heart.

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