Deacon Peter Venezia and his wife, Jo-Ann, are two of our most dedicated volunteers and supporters here at Good Counsel. In addition to sitting on our Board of Directors, they have spent countless hours in all of our homes and Deacon Peter has baptized over 200 babies and children along the way. Ordained in 1993, Deacon Peter and Jo-Ann are parishioners of St. Joseph’s in Spring Valley, N.Y. He and Jo-Ann have been married for 48 years and have one adult son who lives and teaches in China. I recently had a chance to find out a little bit more about these two special people.
Q. How did you get involved with Good Counsel Homes?
Each summer while in the formation program for the deaconate we were assigned to a summer apostolate. In 1995, Fr. John Keaveney assigned us to go to the Good Counsel Home in Spring Valley to pray with the mothers. We felt close to the mothers and their children. Years later when Jo-Ann was working at St. Vincent‘s Hospital in Harrison, Chris Bell approached the administration about starting the Daystar Home on the campus of the hospital for women who were pregnant, homeless, and had emotional difficulties. Jo-Ann was asked to be the liaison between St. Vincent’s and Good Counsel. We suggested to Chris that we would like to volunteer to work with the mothers and offered to baptize the infants. After a short time we started to go to all the homes.
Q. What’s the best thing about volunteering at Good Counsel?
We have an opportunity to show love and concern to women who feel abandoned by their families and friends and teach them about the love and mercy of Christ.
Q. What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of volunteering at Good Counsel?
We know that many of the women have been severely traumatized and, as a result, find it difficult to trust us. We continue to work at having them build a relationship with us and with God.
Q. What do you want people to know about the women whom we serve at Good Counsel?
These women have great courage. Many people in their lives have told them to take the easy way out and terminate their pregnancy. They need our prayers, support, and encouragement. They have great potential if we teach them to believe in themselves and develop a relationship with God.
Q. If someone asked you how they could help Good Counsel what would you suggest?
We would ask what they think they can offer. Good Counsel has many needs. If a person is a teacher and can help a woman get her GED that may be helpful. If a person has a business and can offer employment that could allow a mother to start in the work force. Perhaps a person enjoys babysitting. This service would be a blessing to the mothers. Fund raising is always needed. Praying is important to allow God’s will to touch the heart of each mother.
Deacon Peter continued, “Our work with Good Counsel has allowed us to have a shared ministry as husband and wife. It is always a joy when a mother, who at one point told us she didn’t believe in God, now asks us to pray with her and even prepares to have her infant baptized.
When not at Good Counsel with our moms and babies, Deacon Peter enjoys preaching, often working on homily ideas together with Jo-Ann. The couple enjoys travel, cooking, entertaining, and gardening. Please keep Deacon Peter and Jo-Ann in your prayers.
Would you like to volunteer your time and talent for Good Counsel? There are many opportunities available from rocking babies to teaching a Life Skills class. Please click here for more information.
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