| Chaplain priest calms trouble
|Father Jayson Landeza
One day, as he was observing a sidewalk protest, Rev. Jayson Landeza found himself on the receiving end of a volley of raw eggs. The priest paused as he recalled the incident and laughed. "It was a waste of perfectly good eggs."
As chaplain to a number of local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, Father Landeza wishes all of the hazards and on-site incidents he's faced could be as tame. He has been called to the scene of homicides, fatal car accidents and other heartwrenching situations where he has assisted and consoled people who are dazed, angry or hurt. He has been recognized for his service with numerous awards, including a medal of honor from the Oakland Police Department for the support he provided to members and families of the department after the shocking day in 2009 when four officers were killed in the line of duty.
Bringing his pastoral presence to the scenes of troubling events is a part of what the chaplain does. "It's about being aware of what's happening, looking around to see if someone is struggling at the location, and see if I can help."
Father Landeza recently brought his years of experience as a chaplain to the federal level as the new chaplain for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives San Francisco Field Division. The needs of the ATF mirror those of city and county fire and law enforcement departments, the priest said.
The role of the agency's chaplain, a voluntary position, is to provide support and comfort to ATF employees and their families in times of crisis. Father Landeza is responsible for an area that consists of most of California (north of Bakersfield) and Nevada.
Father Landeza, who took the chaplain officer basic course at the Army Chaplain Center and School in Portsmouth, New Jersey, has been a chaplain for most of the 25 years that he has been a priest. His first assignment as chaplain was in 1995 for the Fremont Fire Department. Over the years he has been chaplain to the Oakland Police Department, to the Berkeley Fire and Police departments. In addition to being a chaplain, he served the Oakland Diocese as an associate pastor and a pastor.
While he continued to take part in chaplain certification and training programs, including attending citizen police academies for the Berkeley and Oakland police departments, Father Landeza said that he never wanted to be a cop. "I admire police and firefighters — I would not be able to measure up to those physical and emotional demands."