2004-03-05 / Front Page

Plastic-Wrapped Body Discovered

Plastic-Wrapped<BR />Body Discovered

Plastic-Wrapped Body Discovered

The body of a 46-year-old Rock away man, wrapped in a plastic shower curtain and dumped in his bathtub, was found with a stab wound to his abdomen in his Shore Front Parkway apartment late Wednesday afternoon.

The local resident, identified as Joseph Johnson, was found by a family member who became concerned when he could not reach the man over the past few days.

Residents of 7800 Shore Front Parkway told reporters gathered at the site that Johnson has lived in the building for much of his life with his mother. His mother, however, passed away last year.

They said that Johnson made a living as a handyman, painting apartments for other tenants in the building.

They added that they believed that he had a problem with drugs.

The discovery of Johnson's body was made in Apartment 4R in the high-rise apartment building at about 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday.

Police sources declined to say how long the body had been in the bathtub nor would they speculate on a motive.

Johnson was declared dead at the apartment by EMS responders.

By Kathleen Louis

A0A survivor of incest, rape and sexual assault, Sister Ave Clark, O.P., of Bayside, now shares what she learned on her long road to recovery with others who suffer from the emotional and spiritual debilitation caused by similar unbearable violations. She does it with love and prayers in the Heart to Heart Ministry she founded several years ago.

"My goal is to listen gently to someone," she said. "I try to uplift a heart whenever I can."

Sister Ave's message to survivors is particularly apt during this Christian season of preparation for Easter. "The wounded heart85 how strange a mystery that God's most precious gift when transformed and healed em erges as suffering embraced and celebrated as Resurrection," she writes in the introduction to her 1993 book, Lights in the Darkness.

A member of the Amityville Dom inican Sisters, who have been serving in Brooklyn and Queens for 150 years, Sister Ave, 58, took her vows more than 40 years ago. She spent 17 years teaching first grade and special education in diocesan schools and now serves as a counselor in local elementary and high schools. She speaks to students about self-esteem.

No one can better understand issues of self-esteem than one who has grappled with the fragility of mind, body and spirit themselves and come out on the other side of the battle with courage and faith. Although Sister Ave suffered sexual abuse as a child, she, like many other victims, blocked memory of the attack until sexually assault ed as an adult. "The saddest aftereffect of abuse is that it changes your life forever," she writes in Lights in the Darkness."

Sister Ave wrote the book in hopes of bringing the tragedy of abuse "out of the painful darkness of secrecy" and increasing the understanding both society and the church have of the overwhelming problem. Some statistics suggest that one in every three girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Some research predicts that one in three women in this country will become a rape victim.

"Survivors of abuse have been in hiding a long time," Sister Ave notes in her book. "Keeping the abuse buried deeply in their psyche has caused many survivors to feel out of control."

Adult symptoms of childhood abuse include dependence on alcohol or drugs, panic attacks, out-of-control rage, depression, sleep disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

Sister Ave, a certified pastoral counselor, not only directs chapters in her book to those who have suffered, but also to those who wish to help ease the suffering of others. She also addresses the special pro blems of those who have been abus ed by clergy, as well as clergy and religious who have survived abuse. Lights in the Darkness is filled with practical advice for counselors and survivors that is bolstered throughout with the scriptural messages of love and prayer.

"To all the children of the world: I hope and pray you feel loved and protected," Sister Ave says. "We are all responsible for the wounded children of the world. We can be love for them, healing love."

Thus, the Heart to Heart Ministry, based in Bayside, came to be. But Sister Ave's ministry of healing is not just for survivors of abuse. She travels to churches throughout Queens and Brooklyn presenting lectures, hosting retreats and moderating prayer meetings for all those needing their "hearts uplifted." And no matter what the occasion, Sister Ave's message is one of love, heart to heart.

On Monday, March 15th, Sister Ave will present a mini Lenten retreat at St. Camillus Church in Rockaway Park from 10 a.m. to noon. The theme will be: Lent is a prayer journey of love. There will be a Lenten evening of prayer hosted by Sister Ave at St. Virgilius Church in Broad Channel on Tuesday, March 16th at 7:30 p.m. Call your local parish for times and dates of other retreats, servicesA0and prayer meetings.

Evenings of prayer for survivors of abuse (physical, sexual, verbal or emotional} , battering and domestic violence are held by Sister Ave's Heart to Heart Ministry on the third Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Bayside. Other monthly support group meetings are held at the church for Adult Children of Alcoholics, those experiencing depression, and parents of children with disabilities, illness, Atten tion Deficit, or depression.

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