Two Years After Katrina, Some New Orleans Clergymen Need Counseling Themselves

Clergymen struggling to comfort the afflicted in New Orleans are finding they, too, need someone to listen to their troubles.

The sight of misery all around them -- and the combined burden of helping others put their lives back together while repairing their own homes and places of worship -- are taking a spiritual and psychological toll on the city's ministers, priests and rabbis, many of whom are in counseling two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Almost every local Episcopal minister is in counseling, including Bishop Charles Jenkins himself, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jenkins, whose home in suburban Slidell was so badly damaged by Katrina that it was 10 months before he and his wife could move back in, said he has suffered from depression, faulty short-term memory, and difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

He says low-flying helicopters sometimes cause flashbacks to the near-despair into which he was once plunged. He says the experience felt "like the absence of God" -- a lonely and frightening sensation.