Tuesday, April 14, 2015

""Don't miss a beat!"

Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse residents prove they don't miss a beat

By Amy Kotlarz/Catholic Courier
BRIGHTON -- The monthly drum circle at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse starts early, allowing the sound of drums to reverberate to the floors above and below.
"Why don’t we just play and wake up the others?" Father Peter Abas, motherhouse chaplain and sacramental minister at Henrietta's Guardian Angels Parish, jokingly suggested to those gathered for the November session.
Father Abas, who began leading the motherhouse’s drum circle several months ago, headed around the room passing out drums, maracas and other percussion instruments big and small to the group of elderly sisters, priests and laypeople.
Once all had instruments, Father Abas suggested they warm up, and he clapped out a beat with his hands. On his cue, participants joined in with taps, booms, bangs and clangs. Father Abas then added a more complex rhythm, and Sister Margaret Caufield, a retired music teacher, created a melody from her perch at the piano.
The din came to a prompt close when Father Abas counted "4-3-2-1," and then the jokes started.
"We can make a lot of money if we go for a concert," the priest quipped.
Yet unlike many other musical groups, this drum circle is an end unto itself. Father Abas, who has led several other area drum circles, noted its therapeutic aspects: It helps people relax, gives them energy, and allows them to vent frustrations and express their talents. At the outset, he said, some of the participants seemed weak, but after even one session of drumming, they appeared to be invigorated.
To illustrate this point, during a break in the music Father Abas asked the 80- and 90-year-old participants how they felt.
"Oh, about 25," one sister responded.
"I want to get up and dance," said Sister Mary Carmella Coene, who will turn 100 on Dec. 21. During the circle, she vigorously hit a bass drum as tall as the seat on her wheelchair.
After the drumming session Father Abas pointed out that many of the circle’s participants live in the motherhouse’s dementia unit.
"This is the first time I have done it (a drum circle) in a residence and with some in a state of Alzheimer’s or dementia," he noted.
To help them get the full benefit of the circle, he gently encouraged participants who were reluctant to pick up an instrument and try drumming. For example, one sister who was wheeled to the circle tried to turn down the offer of a drum.
"I don’t want any," she said. "I don’t want to make noise."
"Today, you are not making noise, you are producing noise," Father Abas remarked as he handed her a drum.
Other participants said they are sold on the circle and on Father Abas.
"I think Father’s spirit is so wonderful," Sister Mary Jude Rockenbrock said.
"You don’t have to do it exactly, and you don’t have to be musical," Sister Rita Biel remarked.
"When you really get going, you can feel the other people take over," said Father David Doerner, a former missionary to Japan who participated in the circle.
The communal nature of the circle is one reason why Sister Caufield, the piano player, said she pines to be back in its midst.
"One hour of piano playing at my age is difficult," said Sister Caufield, who taught at Rochester's St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist schools.
But if it is difficult, Sister Caufield doesn’t let on. As participants call out the names of songs from the patriotic ("God Bless America"), to the nostalgic ("You are my Sunshine"), to the seasonal ("Santa Claus is Coming to Town"), she pulled the melodies from her memory.
Some sisters joined in singing the songs. Sister Caufield’s biological sister, Sister Ann Caufield, said it's clear that people find it fun to be a part of the circle.
"By the looks on their faces, everybody seems to enjoy it," she observed.
- See more at: http://www.catholiccourier.com/regional-life/monroe/features/sisters-of-mercy-motherhouse-residents-prove-they-dont-miss-a-beat/#sthash.1AGWzwmN.dpuf

Growing Up!

One hot issue that seems to be lingering around for sometime and happens to be of a great concern for politicians, lawmakers, academicians, parents, educationalist and community leaders is the decline of civic consciousness among youth. Apart from the decline in civic consciousness, the youth are also exposed to different social problems which includes substance abuse, discipline problems, gangsterism, vandalism, alcoholism and young relationships among youths. It has been recommended that the community and policy makers need to view social problems holistically.
Dominic had the unique opportunity to talk to Dr. Peter Abas who as they say, went through the grind while growing up and has gained the right to share his experiences and wisdom with the listeners. He suggests that,”a lot of things can be achieved through sports and games.” Dr. Peter did just that when he was a young lad, with lots of encouragement and support from his father. His fathers positive influence over him did make a big difference in developing his personality and character.
As a social worker, counsellor and community leader Dr. Peter has this question to ask all parents, “How much quality time are you actually investing with your kids?” Dr. Peter further elaborates that it is extremely critical during these challenging and complex times for parents to give their undivided attention to their kids, particularly during their growing-up years. “My fathers attention and inspiration has made a tremendous difference to my life.” I sincerely hope that this interview will inspire parents and the young ones, that it is possible for your kids to achieve success no matter what the circumstances are, through effective mentoring of parents and the willingness of the respective parent to take charge. As parents, we are ultimately responsible for the way our children turn out.
Dr. Peter Abas was born on 18 May 1960, Penampang, Sabah or popularly known as North Borneo. Dr. Peter completed his pre-university at St. Francis Xaviers Seminary in Singapore and spent another six years at St. Peters College, Kuching, Sarawak majoring in Theology & Philosophy. After which Peter went to St. Josephs, Kiulu, Sabah serving the poor community before being sent to San Anselmo Pontifical University, Rome, Italy to obtain the ‘ Licentiate In Sacred Liturgy.’ While in Italy he mastered the Italian language.
When Dr. Peter returned to this region he spent 1 year at SAIDI (Philipines) focusing on human formation and later went back to teach at St. Peters College, Kuching, Sarawak for 3 years. Obtained a scholarship to pursue a Masters In Counselling at Fordham University, New York, specialising in ‘Substance Abuse By the Young.’ Also completed a Post-Masters in Counselling & Human Services. Obtained a second scholarship to complete a Doctorate In Education at University Rochester, New York, specialising in Counselling & Human Development(Gerontology Counselling) and wrote a book on ‘Loneliness’ focusing on the elderly above 65 years of age.
In New York, Dr. Peter Abas founded the St. Raymonds Youth Group or better known as ‘Heart-Beats.’ Dr. Peter also had exposure with youth centres in Australia and Germany. While in Germany he mastered the German language. Dr. Peter Abas was invited to present a paper in France at the 19th World Congress for the International Association Of Gerontology And Geriatrics. Dr. Peter completed a research on ‘End Of Life’ related to Hospice and Palliative Care. Implemented innovative methods in counselling for the elderly such as ‘Rhythmic Tranquility.’ Dr. Peter was very active at the St. Josephs Neighbourhood Counselling Center, New York, Pastoral Counselling & Family Therapy, New York and University Counselling Center , New York.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Say No Drugs, Say Yes to Life"

Catholic priest heals the wounds of teen life

 by Joe Leong
SABAH FOCUS: Earlier this month, in conjunction with the national level Anti-Dadah Day, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made a frightening disclosure that two boys from Sabah aged eight and nine are among the youngest addicts in Malaysia.
The duo from Papar and Keningau had indulged in drugs for a few months before their parents found out and handed them to the cure and care centre of the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK). 
“Drug abuse remains a major problem with some of the latest addicts being as young as seven, hooked on drugs since last year. This is certainly worrying,” Zahid said. His concern was being echoed by AADK's Director-General Datuk Suhaimi Abdullah who added, “This is worrying. Here, we are trying to overcome teenage involvement but now we have such young kids.” 
Seeing the many dangers that the young are now facing, a Catholic priest took the initiative to conduct a one-day programme on March 14, aimed to help participants cope with “Modern Wounds in Teens Life”, as the title of the programme suggests.
“One of the biggest problems among the young in Sabah now is on drugs. Teens can easily be influenced,” said Fr Peter Abas, parish priest at Holy Nativity Church, at Terawi, in Penampang, who was the main speaker at the gathering attended by a group of 170 school children aged from 12-17 years from Penampang, Inanam, Tuaran and Papar.
They packed the foyer at the entrance of the church to listen to talks on drugs and alcohol abuse among teens, technology addiction and the positive application of technology for teens. They were also told about the Internet and the dangers arising from information communication technology (ICT).
Fr Peter told Theantdaily that being a mental health counsellor, a lot of clients referred to him were mostly victims of the drug, syabu. 
“I want parents to be aware that their children are easily influenced. My message to the teens gathered here today is this - Don't let syabu hit you but you hit the syabu.
In his talks to teens, he urged them to beware of peer pressure, curiosity of wanting to try, and to make the excuse that they had come from a broken family.
“I tell parents all the time that they need to spend quality time with their children. It is not enough just to give them food and comforts of life at home. What they need more are expressions of love from the parents. That is lacking,” Fr Peter advised.
He said parents have depended too much on the education system to teach their children. “The real education is to start from the parents. This is what I stress whenever I meet them.”
Fr Peter gained his wide knowledge and experience in drug abuse and menace during his several years of stay at the Bronx in New York where he undertook his post graduate studies and stayed on as the priest in charge of a parish there. 
Firstly, he did his master and post master at Fordham University, then a doctorate at University of Rochester, NY, with specialisation in genetic population on the issue of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He stayed on to teach there before returning to Sabah in 2011. 
His Bronx experience has certainly helped him as a counsellor for families having problems related with marriage, children involved with crime and drugs and other social ills.
Rather than use of gentle words and cautious approach as is expected in such religious education sessions for youth, he spoke to the group of teens on Saturday directly and openly about the dangers of pornography, masturbation, and the dangers of how a simple photo of a girl could be doctored into a girl in the nude.
The participants were taught the right and wrong use of the Internet and the social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Throughout the day's programme, slogans such as, “Be master of technology, not be a slave of technology” and “Hit the drug out of your life, not let the drug hit you”, repeatedly resounded in the ears of the teens.
It is now left to be seen how these 170 teens would put these aims into practice in their daily school life from here on. The organisers aim to form a core team from the group who could later assist in conducting similar courses elsewhere in Penampang and other parts of the state.
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