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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 22, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 18Dec00

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


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