TAWAU : 108 parish leaders and Basic Ecclesial Community coordinators of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau and its outstations attended a series of talks on counseling on Saturday and Sunday 20 to 21 August 2011 conducted by Fr. Charles Chiew from the Diocese of Keningau with the theme “knowing your potential to be a care giver.
Over the past many years, various ministries of the parish like the Christian Family Life, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Pastoral Care and the Youth have felt an urgent need for a counseling facility in the parish to help parishioners with individual or family problems.
The ice breaking session
Initiated by the Christian Family Life Ministry, the above ministries, together with the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) coordinators decided to organize the talks, and were excited when Fr. Charles agreed to give them.

With a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University Urbaniana Rome and a doctorate from USA, the organizers believed that those who attend the talks would benefit greatly.
Fr. Charles from the Keningau Diocese
In his first talk, Fr Dr. Charles introduced to the participants the normal stages of the human development from the first day of our lives, through adolescence, adulthood, middle age and finally to the age of the elderly.

This is to give the participants the basic understanding of our own normal human development, thereby letting us know what is normal and what is not when faced with a real situation.

The second day session involved  practical session with the participants divided into two groups of “counselors”  and the others “counselees”.
Participants listening to the input. 

The talks were very well received, with the participants learning substantially the basic skills of counseling.

We were able to learn that the important basic principles of counseling were:
1. Willing to listen.
   This gives the counselee a sense of acceptance and love.

2. Be a good companion.
The sense of journeying together with the counselee will enable him/her to feel a lightened burden, thereby leading  him/her to understand the situation better. In that way he/she would be able to make a good decision.
Group dynamics and practical session
3. Unconditional acceptance and love.
This means a counselor accepts friendship from a counselee without judgement.
A good counselor is one who can rehabilitate a person by his/her ability to give concern and love.
We are reminded that Christ changes us not by judging us but by loving us.
4. Knowing our self limitation.
   We have to be aware that we have limits and there are situations where a counselor needs to refer the counselee to another counselor or even to a professionally trained health care provider or social worker.

In his conclusion, Fr. Charles reminded us that when we do counseling, we are actually presenting God to that person through our concern, empathy, love and our spiritual support.
Msgr Nicholas Ong extending his appreciation to Fr Charles and the participants
It is hoped that with these talks and the next coming ones scheduled for October this year, the parish will be able to set up  a “care  center” offering good counseling to those in need.
Fellowship after the talk
Holy Trinity Church.

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