February 1, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Newly-formed St. Vincent de Paul tri-parish conference receives seed monies to begin serving neighbors in need. Left to right: Anna Conn, Charlie Mendoza, Lisa Jones, Diane Henshaw, Holli Jo Corley, Rebecca Woodall, and Richard Remp-Morris, CEO/executive director of SVDP-Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky, Inc. COURTESY OF SVDP

With new tri-parish conference, western Kentucky St. Vincent de Paul expands to serve neighbors in need


Under the guidance of Fr. John Okoro, three parishes in western Kentucky have established the Diocesan Council’s 23rd Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference: St. Francis Borgia, St. Ambrose, and St. William.

President Rebecca Woodall said, “Fr. John Okoro is truly at the heart of this endeavor. He has started SVDP Conferences at many of his parishes. At his request and encouragement, Holli Jo Corley, secretary at St. Francis, researched what it would take to start a conference. She took off with the idea and really got the ball rolling. When she told me about it, I was very excited because working in human services I see all the needs that are too often not met, especially in Crittenden County. Fr. Okoro feels strongly that all three parishes be represented on the council.”

Members are still being recruited and the conference is in the middle of getting organized to serve Union, Crittenden, and Webster counties. Next steps are to build relationships with agencies within the communities served and to find out what the needs are in the counties. 

“We are not truly serving the community if we are not meeting the needs. We want to help in meaningful ways. So, it is vital that we make sure we know the needs,” said Woodall.

Funding is a big job at the beginning and the tri-parish conference is fortunate to have received seed funds from the SVDP-Diocesan Council, a grant from the United Way of the Ohio Valley, plus donations from area parishioners totaling more than $10,000.

“Money will come because we are doing God’s work,” said Fr. Okoro. At the same time, we need to take St. Augustine’s advice as he said, “Pray as though everything depended on God; act as though everything depended on you.” Continued funding plans include asking the three parishes to have a fifth Sunday envelope to collect money for the tri-parish conference.

According to Woodall, determining who the neighbors in need are will be somewhat of a challenge: “That is something we are still working on as well. I do believe that they will find us more often than we will find them. We have already been able to help one person. A woman called St. William one day while I was in the office. She needed to move out of a bad situation. She could afford the rent on a new place but couldn’t afford a deposit and rent. We were able to cover the deposit so she could get away from her situation.”

Serving in the conference so far are: St. Francis Borgia – Charlie Mendoza (spiritual adviser), Anna Conn (spiritual adviser), Lisa Jones (treasurer), Tony Pfingston, Gloria Mendoza; St. Ambrose – Carol Martin, Stephanie Dossett, Marilyn Day, Holli Jo Corley (interim secretary), Joe Corley, Bobbie Mackey, Diane Henshaw (vice president); St. William – Rebecca Woodall (president), Melanie Walker, Monica Wessel, Lynann Woodall, Michelle Crider (cantor for all parishes).

For more information, contact Rebecca Woodall through the St. William parish office at (270) 965-2750 or visit svdpwky.org.

Belinda Abell is the marketing coordinator for Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Western Kentucky.

Originally printed in the February 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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