Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on December 15, 1981 · Page 22
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 22

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Detroit, Michigan
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Tuesday, December 15, 1981
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Page 22
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6B DETROIT FREE PRESSTUESDAY, DEC. 15, 1981 A palette of services for the very ill I "I'll be damned and I mean that in a theological sense if the children who have life-threatening diseases cannot get the services they need." With this motto, the Rev. Russell Kohler has worked the last several years to help provide housing, transportation and emotional support for young cancer patients and their families. ' In August 1980, Father Kohler, who is temporary administrator of St. Charles Catholic Church in Newport, founded the Pope John XXIII Hospitality House, near the Detroit Medical Center, where outstate cancer patients may live while they are receiving specialized care. Hospitality House is named after Pope John because he showed hope and strength while dying of cancer, Father Kohler said. Father Kohler, who is temporary administrator of St. Charles Catholic Church in Newport, founded the Pope John XXIII Hospitality House, near the Detroit Medical Center, in August 1980. Outstate cancer patients may live there while they are receiving Special care. Hospitality House is named after Pope Jpjin' because he showed hope and strength while dying of cancer, Father Kohler said. ; ; . THE INFORMAL DEDICATION of the ParduccI ; Studio last week signifies the expansion of another of father Kohler's projects, Discover the Arts with " Youth in Therapy. . ; ' Currently, the program sends artists to the homes . of young cancer patients. Father Kohler believes art , should be part of the life of the youngster who is threatened by disease, "The artist is a yital team member, along with the clergyman and the doctor," he said. "Art complements the heightened perception Of the dying child." . 'The isolation the artist enjoys as part of a daily routine is matched by the child who is isolated by disease. Very quickly, Father Kohler said, there develops a rapport between artist and patient. , Art is also important in the relationship of parent ' and child. "It helps the parent go beyond just relating to the, disease," he said. "The session helps the parent relate to the creativity of the child." , The approach is not art therapy, it is simply art, said Father Kohler. "We make it a point that the artists we select are not versed in medical or psycholo- ' ' '''' jri'"""1'' v I? 1 The Rv. Russell Kohler's art program is expanding into a Cass Corridor studio. w if Photoi by Eric Smith Sister Antonia Cheng, center, shows Japanese paper folding to, from left. Barb and Val Sears, Betty Cheng, Lisa Sears and Net Sears. gical jargon. What we do is very distinct from art therapy, which has a diagnostic role in the early stage of the disease. We're dealing with the end-stage, and I'm afraid if we used art therapists we'd Introduce distance between the parent and the child. We want the artist relating strictly to the creative perception of the child." WHEN THE CHILD starts with the artist, he or she usually begins with a self-portrait in charcoal. "The Image is usually dismal and paralyzed," said Father Kohler, "but by the fourth visit, the self-portrait is full-bodied, the figure is no longer paralyzed, the smiling lips are larger than the head, the charcoal is put away and replaced by colors which are very vibrant." Father Kohler said he hopes the Parducci Studio ' will become a place where patient and artist can work on any type of project, from sculpture to drawing and painting to photography; and eventually to mime, drama and music. There is no budget for the program. The Pope John XXIII Hospitality House runs on donations from downtown Catholic churches, one synagogue, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Council for the Arts. Irish pubs also have sponsored parties to benefit the program. FATHER KOHLER pays the artists $250 for 10 to 15 home visits. "This includes scouting out materials, driving time and gas they really are giving of themselves," he said. With the ParduccI Studio, he would like to begin group art sessions. His goal for 1982 is to include 100 young cancer patients. Already there is a waiting list for his Discover the Arts in Therapy program. Volunteers are cleaning up the studio, and Father Kohler plans to formally dedicate the studio on Parducci's birthday, March 19. Father Kohler plans to turn the fireplace room into an art gallery where participants will exhibit their work. For information about the Discover the Arts Program and the Pope John XXIII Hospitality House, write to: 3977 Second Ave., Detroit 48201; or call 832-HELP between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Gregg Sutter Dreams take shape in sculptor's studio STUDIO, from Page 1B Indeed, prominent clergy in the archdiocese the late Edward Cardinal Mooney, Bishop Michael J. Gallagher and the Rev. Charles E. Coughlin used to come to Parducci's studio to discuss works in progress, i "Parducci was Michelangelo to the Detroit prelates," Father Kohler said. J Father Kohler commissioned Parducci to do a small statue of St. Aloysius ' and, in so doing, showed him the arts program at the downtown church. In he program, a qualified artist works one-on-one with a child who has cancer. The priest asked the sculptor if he'd Kke to get involved. Parducci declined, j; "He understood thoroughly what ye were doing," said Kohler, "but he really couldn't get close because it rought back too many memories of his wins, Harry and David. It tore him apart." In a sense, Joe Parducci had been doing art therapy for years with his ill sons.: He brought them into the studio ' vhen the disease began taking its toll. "fie wanted to give them a sense of dignity," recalled Allen Parducci, "the ; feeling that they were earning their keep." ' . ! ; About 1 4 years ago, Father Kohler tried, to expand the arts program and went looking for studio space. He again approached Parducci about participating in the program or leasing his studio. Again, Parducci said no. "The studio was Parducci's enclosure of solitude, "Art experience helps them to have a more normal life." and I was threatening that solitude," said Father KohleR. BUT THE SCULPTOR told the priest that he might let him use the studio when he was no longer able to use it. Last month, as Parducci lay near death in a hospital, he called for Father Kohler. The priest rushed to the hospital, and, with son Allen looking on, Joe Parducci expressed his wish that Father Kohler have the studio. "Then he was at peace," said Father Kohler. "There was a constant smile on his face." Family members called it "the miracle visit" because of the calm that overtook Joe Parducci afterward. "My hope was that he would rebound after that and we could work together," Father Kohler said. But six days later Joe Parducci died. , AT THE INFORMAL dedication of the Parducci Studio last week, Sister Mary Cheng and Sister Antonia Cheng arrived to give Val and Lisa Sears their first art lessons. Sister Mary works with Father Kohler at Children's Hospital, where she teaches the children origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Using brightly colored paper to make dragons, boats and paper wheels, she and the children have transformed the hospital's waiting room. Sister Mary had not expected to teach at the dedication no one had told her to bring materials so she ripped up an old telephone book and managed to hold the children's attention anyway. "It's just too serious for a child to have these illnesses," she said as she made a paper boat, "and art experience helps them to have a more normal life, to play like normal children." Looking around at the studio, she said, "We can do a lot with the kids here." OUTSIDE, Father Kohler contemplated the decay that has closed in on the studio since it was built 33 years ago. He Insists things will change. "We've been offered three properties around the studio, and if we controlled them, we could determine what this neighborhood will become." Father Kohler is aware that people might not consider this area safe, but he said the studio is like a compound; students are escorted in and out. "We don't walk in here with fear." From inside the studio, the tiny voices of Val and Lisa are raised in excited laughter. "It's good to see children and hear young voices in the studio," Allen Parducci said. There is continuity now between Joe Parducci's work and Russell Kohler's plans. "I feel a debt to Parducci to maintain the solitude of the studio, but that solitude will now become an endurance which is joyful," said the priest. PLACE YOUR ORDER ANYTIME FOR PICK-UP THRU JAN. 1, 19S2. WE USE ONLY THE FRESHEST AND FINEST PRODUCTS AVAILABLE. ALL OUR MEATS ARE QUALITY KOWALSKI AND ECKRICH. FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 943-3354 OR 55. 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