Living the Faith: Joanne Vercollone

DUXBURY ? Leo and Joanne Vercollone feel very blessed by God.

Happily married for 27 years, with four children “who are absolute blessings,” according to Joanne, the couple lives their lives full of gratitude for what God has done for them.

“My faith has allowed me to develop a plan for my life,” said Leo during a recent interview. “Faith allows you ? and the Catholic Church allows you ? to live a life geared toward heaven.”

In their 27 years as parishioners at Holy Family Parish, the two have been involved in a variety of ways. Currently Leo, 53, is the head of the parish’s pastoral council and also assists on the finance council.

Together with a group of parishioners from Holy Family, Leo also hosts a weekly Catholic discussion group at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility.

“It’s pretty rewarding,” stated Leo. “A lot of these fellows count it as a blessing that they are now in prison. Many of them come from addictions, and now they can see the errors of their ways. Participating in the discussion group, it gives them a map of how to put them on the straight and narrow.”

In addition to attending weekly Mass, Joanne, 53, works part time in the parish’s religious education department.

For the past five years, Joanne has also helped coordinate the Appalachia Service Project, a parish organization that travels each year to impoverished areas in the Appalachian Mountain region to help build homes for the disadvantaged.

“Every summer we take between 35 and 50 kids,” explained Joanne, “but the preparations begin long before the summer. There’s fund-raising for the kids to get to Appalachia; the kids have to learn how to use power tools. It’s actually a yearlong process.”

Joanne first became involved when the couple’s oldest daughter, who is currently a senior at Boston College, was in the eighth grade. According to Joanne, her daughter was invited to participate in a service project hosted by a local Protestant church. This prompted Joanne and another parishioner to begin the Appalachia Service project in their parish.

“We just find that the kids ? especially the teenagers ? once you stop trying to teach religion from a book and instead you go and live it, it makes the whole religious ‘living the faith’ come to life,” she said.

According to Leo, they are not unique in their involvement in Holy Family.

“When I think of Holy Family, I think of a number of very bright, energetic and engaged individuals who live their faith,” said Leo, president and CEO of Verc Enterprises.

Passing the faith onto their children is something both husband and wife consider incredibly important.

“We want to instill our faith into our children, and there’s no better way to do that than to lead by example,” said Joanne.

“I feel very blessed to have been able to interact with others that share my values, and my faith.”