Spiritual first responders hit the streets amid drug crisis

Some clergy members have become spiritual first responders in the opioid crisis.

In Newburgh, New York, it means Catholic friars leading sidewalk prayers. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, it means pleas to struggling souls to surrender to God. And in Winchester, Virginia, it means funerals for members of their flock who didn’t make it.

Though their faiths differ, the clergy approach people with addictions as equals. No Bible-thumping, no blaming. Quite a few are in recovery themselves. They want troubled souls to seek treatment and take comfort in faith.

The work means trips to hospital rooms and fresh graves. But clergy say there are flashes of light in the darkness, too.

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