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Sister Mariam Pfeifer Receives MAR/AMTA Lifetime Award

During these anxiety-filled pandemic times, many of us are discovering the therapeutic powers of music. In 1976, Sister Mariam Pfeifer became an IHM pioneer in that field with a degree-equivalency in music therapy from the University of Georgia. Since then she both established the music therapy program at Marywood University (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary) as well as set up a program and an opportunity for music therapy internships at St. Joseph’s Center. Until the Covid-19 quarantine at OLP, our cognitively-impaired sisters benefited from her work when Marywood music therapy students visit and work with them regularly.

Since the mid-1970s, Mariam has also been actively engaged in both the national and regional music therapy associations. For her work in the national organization, Mariam received the AMTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

And though she has retired from Marywood University, Mariam is still active in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Music Therapy Association – an association that she also served as president in 1993 - 1994. It was fitting that, during this year’s conference, the MAR/AMTA also gave Mariam its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Because of the pandemic, the MAR/AMTA held its annual conference and awards ceremony “virtually” on June 6 and 7 using a program called Crowdcast. Though the awards ceremony was the last part of the conference agenda on Sunday, a computer was set up in the OLP conference room so that Mariam could “attend” many of the conference sessions. Still involved in the organization, Mariam’s intention is to submit her sessions’ attendance to the organization for continuing education credits so that she can renew her credentials.

The conference concluded with the awards ceremony. The MAR/AMTA president, Beth Deyermond, presented each award as the image of the winner appeared on the screen. Of Mariam, she remarked, "For over forty-three years, Sister Mariam has been a stable in the world of music therapy. She trained hundreds of therapist and traveled around the world so that she herself never stopped learning. Sister’s name will forever be synonymous with the program at Marywood University.”

In response, Mariam’s remarks included a quote from Kahlil Gibran addressed to the students, “You give little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Beth Deyermond is right—Sister Mariam has never stopped learning!

mariam with award