By Kent Larsen
LDS Fire Department Chaplain Sees Ventura Tragedies
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Six years ago Larry Modugno, 56, a deacon at St.
Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Camarillo, started the Ventura County Fire
Department's Chaplaincy program, providing chaplains to help survivors of
tragedy deal with grief and serve as spiritual advisors at these difficult
times. One of the chaplains in the program is LDS Church member Tom Wheeler
of Moorpark, California.
The 4 chaplains in the program work on an on-call basis 24 hours a day,
responding to the calls of the battalion chief on the scene. Only Modugno
draws a 20-hour-per-week salary, the others, including Wheeler, work on a
volunteer basis, helping firefighters deal with what they see in the
tragedies they respond to, in addition to the victims and survivors.
Wheeler, a high priest in his Ward, is a risk management consultant, and
knows officials in several Ventura County cities because of his work. He
describes his way of approaching tragedies as "silent ministry." He doesn't
say much when he arrives at a call. His motto: The less said in those first
moments, the better. "You are there to observe and watch what is happening.
At a certain point in the grieving process, things calm down."
The article describes the styles of the other chaplains in the program, as
well as some of the tragedies they have faced.
Answering the Call
Los Angeles Times 17Dec00 P2
By Timothy Hughes: Times Staff Writer