Carson City chaplain to help with relief effort in Houston | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City chaplain to help with relief effort in Houston

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carson City Sheriff's department chaplain Bill Colonna says that he expects to spend 12-14 hours a day counseling and ministering at the Houston Astrodome after his arrival.

Chaplain Bill Colonna with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department is answering another call.

The Houston Police Department has made a specific request for law enforcement chaplains to assist them and the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina and Colonna will leave for Houston on Monday.

“The Lord willing, I’ll be able to help. It tears me up to hear of the law enforcement hurting. I suppose most of the people, evacuees, will be looking for answers. Like ‘why,’ or ‘why me?’ It’s an impossible question. You can’t answer it,” Colonna said

“I expect to see a lot of broken officers and a lot of pain. I’m also expecting to see a lot of hope, trust and faith. I figure I will be counseling and ministering 12-14 hours a day. Then I will have my own prayer time.

“I was so stressed out when I got the call, I wanted to say ‘I’ll be there tomorrow,’ but I couldn’t do it. I had to go through proper channels.”

Colonna prayed and waited. Then he called his pastor, Tom Luteweiler with Calvary Church in Reno and spoke with him about it. Luteweiler called the church board to discuss funding a portion of Colonna’s trip.

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“It was an overwhelming ‘yes,’ from the church board,” Colonna said. “The church is so supportive – it’s humbling to me how supportive they are.”

The trip status is called “Hardship Deployment.” The entire cost of the trip is borne by the chaplain. Although his position with the sheriff’s office is volunteer, Sheriff Kenny Furlong has pulled funds from gifts and donations given to the department by the community.

“I’m extremely honored Bill has been selected,” Furlong said. “Not only of our chaplains but our deputies who are part of the National Guard playing a part in the national disaster.”

Three officers from the Carson City Sheriff’s Department are already in Mississippi awaiting assignment.

Furlong welcomes donations to the chaplain’s program to aid this type of circumstance.

Colonna was recently certified by the American Red Cross Disaster Services. He has also assisted with the Salvation Army Family Emergency Shelter in Reno which helps displaced families.

Colonna said an e-mail received described working conditions as “primitive.”

“I’ve helped with crisis situations,” he said. “But nothing to this magnitude. I’ve helped a missionary friend in Mexico for a month at a time, and most recently the Waterfall fire.”

Colonna will be helping at the Houston Astrodome, community center and various shelters.

“Wherever I’m needed is where I’ll be,” he said.

Colonna has received certification training in Nevada Peace Officer’s Standards and Training, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Red Cross spiritual care training, International Conference of Police Chaplains West regional training, Carson City and Truckee Meadows Chaplaincy, Nevada Division of Emergency Management Incident Command System advanced training and basic and advanced FBI training in crisis negotiations.

The ordained minister has been with the Sheriff’s Department’s Chaplaincy program since October 2003.

Chaplain Program

The Carson City Sheriff’s Department Chaplain’s Program is accepting donations. Make checks payable to, Carson City Sheriff’s Department Chaplain’s Program and mail to: Carson City Sheriff’s Department, 901 E. Musser St., Carson City, 89701

– Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.