FAITH MATTERS: Counselor switches to Christian practice

Terry Robinson

Advocate staff writer

Dana Vicellio
Dana Vicellio

School counseling has given way to Chrisitan counseling for Dana Vicellio, of Zachary.

Vicellio spent 25 years as a teacher and counselor in Zachary schools and for the past three years also has been running her own part-time Christian counseling service.

In May, the 50-year-old licensed practical counselor retired from her school job to focus on her private practice.

“I knew that God had prepared me for this and this is what he wants me to do full-time,” said Vicellio, a member of First Baptist Church of Zachary.

What Vicellio wasn’t prepared for was a breast cancer diagnosis in March. That forced her to move her retirement date up to April.

After two surgeries and treatment, Vicellio is cancer-free.

“I’m healed in Jesus’ name,” she said. “I was so fortunate in the sense that I did not have to have chemo and it was caught early.”

That experience has given her another testimony to help in her counseling service.

“For whatever reason, it was part of my journey and just another thing I could identify with people who are going through things,” she said.

Cancer wasn’t the only challenge Vicellio faced.

“Aside from recent cancer, the enemy had tried to put me down time and time again through various trials … and I’m still standing. It’s only due to the power of our God and his faithfulness,” she said.

Vicellio wants her practice — Christian Counseling Services at 5568 Main St., Suite D, Zachary — to be an extension of her faith.

“The reason why I chose the name I chose is because I want to make certain that there’s no question of what’s my focus and what’s my desire for all that may seek my help,” she said. “I believe that Jesus is the answer to every person in every situation and that no matter what there is hope in the Lord.”

The premise of her business is Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

“That is a promise for every single one of us. And that is the foundation for what I do. It’s not about me. It’s about God working through me to point people to him,” she said.

Vicellio, who holds a master’s degree in school counseling from LSU, said her practice serves adults, children and adolescents on the wide variety of issues people could face.

“How I approach that is, ‘You know what that could be me, ’” she said. “I could get in a car wreck or have brain damage. So we need to be careful about not being judgmental or looking down upon people, because that could be any of us.

“And that’s been my core philosophy or what I do. …. whether being homeless or going through a divorce or just anything. We got to pull together and help each other.”

Contact Vicellio at (225) 658-1700 or (225) 658-1702 or dvicellio@aol.com.

Biking for Jesus

Jessica DeLee is using her love for motorcycles to help in ministry work.

“There is no sport that I like better than dirt-bike racing,” said Jessica, 11, of Slidell.

Jessica recently competed with Team MORE (Motorcycle Out Reach Evangelism) in a dirt-bike race to raise funds to help purchase motorcycles for overseas missionaries.

“(Jessica) loves Jesus and loves raising money to help spread the Word of God, so what a way to do it — by doing something she loves to do: racing motorcycles,” said Jessica’s mother, Angela DeLee.

Jessica, who attends First Baptist Church Christian School in Slidell and Northshore Church, finished in fourth place in the 24-Hour Challenge in Maplesville, Ala. She teamed with 15-year-old Kathryn Hyde, of Hoover, Ala., in the race against men.

More than 200 riders participated.

Angela DeLee said the race put on by the Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club is an endurance race of 11 miles through wooded trails, fire roads, creek beds and fields. The race started at 10 a.m. May 25 and finished at 10 a.m. May 26. Jessica and Kathryn combined for 29 laps and 311 miles.

Team MORE is led by President Gasper “Doty” Pizzalato, a minister for the Southern Enduro Riders Association.

Jessica has been competing in off-road motorcycle racing since she was 4 years old and holds five off-road titles.

Donations to help the ministry can be sent to Team MORE, c/o Gasper Pizzalato III, 13087 Beoneke Road, Clinton, LA 70722.

Touched by an angel

On July 19, 1984, the night a tragic accident took the lives of Bob Bell’s wife and 2 1/2 -year-old child near Miami, Bell recalled learning from an angel that his “time has not yet come.”

Bell, of Baton Rouge, shares the story of that fateful night, the criminal case involving the other driver, Bell’s faith and his road to recovery in his 225-page book “Between Life and Eternity: A True Story About a Tragic Wreck, an Encounter With an Angel, and Future Events” (Intermedia Publishing Group).

Bell said he lost consciousness during the wreck but was able to see his wife and daughter take a stairway to heaven. He tried to follow but the angel told him to stop.

“He stuck his hand in my chest and forcefully, but not violently, shoved me back down the stairway of light,” writes Bell, a retired longtime Navy judge advocate general’s attorney. “It was then I saw (wife) Muffin kneel and bow in humble adoration when she reached the top of the stairway. She and (daughter) Elizabeth soon disappeared out of sight as if going over a hill.”

Bell, 70, said an extended encounter with the angel shaped the rest of his life.

After several difficult moments in his life and career, Bell found a new love in a Baton Rouge native. He and Raymie were married in 1988. Bell retired from the Navy and moved to Baton Rouge from Florida with his wife — a high school English teacher — and three children in 2000.

“I believe that everyone has one or more angels,” Bell writes. “God’s angels are working behind the scenes on your behalf. Be receptive to God’s will and consider those thoughts that may suddenly come to mind for your benefit consistent with God’s plans and His love and concern for you.”

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com