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updated: 1/3/2014 10:02 PM

Moving Picture: Westmont 'crisis junkie' also paramedic

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  • Video: Moving Picture: Dual Roles

  • Dan Sullivan drives one of the department rigs from the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night on shift.

       Dan Sullivan drives one of the department rigs from the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night on shift.
    photos by Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Sullivan takes a moment to pray with Charles Sondgeroth and his wife Joanna of Sandwich during a recent hospitalization at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.

       Dan Sullivan takes a moment to pray with Charles Sondgeroth and his wife Joanna of Sandwich during a recent hospitalization at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Sullivan clutches the hand of Charles Sondgeroth and prays with him at his bedside.

       Dan Sullivan clutches the hand of Charles Sondgeroth and prays with him at his bedside.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Sullivan gets his gear on at the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night on shift.

       Sullivan gets his gear on at the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night on shift.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Ray Estes, left, of Aurora chats with Dan Sullivan before being released from Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.

       Ray Estes, left, of Aurora chats with Dan Sullivan before being released from Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Sullivan chats with Rich Zasada at the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night as a firefighter.

       Dan Sullivan chats with Rich Zasada at the Westmont Fire Station during a recent night as a firefighter.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

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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