Fittest loser
Article updated: 1/3/2014 10:02 PM

Moving Picture: Westmont 'crisis junkie' also paramedic

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Dan Sullivan is driven to guide people along the road to healing -- physically and spiritually.

Sullivan, who lives in Downers Grove, is the director of Spiritual Care at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora. He has been with Rush-Copley since 1986. Sullivan was ordained a Catholic priest in 1981 and served at a parish in suburban Downers Grove for almost four years.

He then took a leave of absence and ended up marrying two years later. During that period of time he developed an avocation, or hobby outside of his profession, as a firefighter/paramedic. He currently works in that capacity for the village of Westmont.

"I'm kind of a crisis junkie," Sullivan says. "Critical incident stress is kind of like where I live. It's probably also consuming me, too, but I love that stuff. I've got the best of both worlds here."

Sullivan claims his two careers are very distinct, yet overlap. They are both ministries in many ways. When Sullivan works as a paramedic, he is still pastoral. At the hospital, Sullivan understands the physical hurt and healing.

"I'd be half the guy I am if I were not the other in some way. Both careers are great," he says.

Sullivan believes there are misconceptions about what hospital chaplains really do.

"We're not here to give people stuff or to convert them to a certain religion or point of view," he says. "We're here really to walk along with people and go through what they're going through and help them access whatever spiritual resources they have within them."

Sullivan often reflects on the past and present, and knows he is approaching the end of his careers. He has one desire when that time comes.

He hopes and prays people would remember him as caring and compassionate man who walked along with them on some of the worst, and perhaps some of the best, days of their lives.

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