February 1, 2024 | Local News, Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Nancy Harris, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky, Inc. COURTESY OF NANCY HARRIS

A Vincentian’s journey


I recently sat down with Nancy Harris, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky, Inc. and talked to her about her path to servant leadership. 

What brought you to becoming a Vincentian?

About eight years ago I was looking for something to do after being retired for a while. I wanted to volunteer in some capacity and decided to check out the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at my parish, Sts. Joseph and Paul. I had volunteered at the Help Office in Owensboro and had worked with Vincentians when looking for resources for those needing assistance. I was impressed with how they truly cared for our neighbors in need. 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of being a Vincentian?

It’s being able to make a difference in other people’s lives. As a member of my parish conference, it’s assisting a neighbor with rent or food or keeping their utilities on or simply praying with them. As diocesan council president, it’s helping Vincentians at all levels grow in friendship, spirituality, and service to others. 

Looking back from when you became a Vincentian to today, how would you describe your journey?

My journey was nothing I could have imagined. As president of my parish conference, I became involved at the district level, which includes all conferences in Daviess, McLean and Henderson counties. I was asked to serve as vice president of the diocesan council and after a short time was elected as its first female president since its inception in 1961. Our council encompasses all 32 counties of the Diocese of Owensboro.

I’m nearing the end of my second three-year term and I’ve enjoyed all the challenges and accomplishments. I was fortunate to attend St. Vincent de Paul’s week-long leadership program – “Invitation for Renewal” where I joined Vincentians from across America who seek a deeper understanding of Vincentian spirituality.

I’ve grown as a person and as a Catholic. I’ve met, worked with, and collaborated with some of the most amazing people and been fortunate to have made wonderful, new friends that I will carry through the rest of my life. I’m always learning something new – about myself and about the Society. All my experiences have taught me what being humble really means. The challenges have meant learning to depend on the Holy Spirit whether I’m speaking to a neighbor in need, Vincentians, at a meeting or whatever situation I find myself in.

What are your future plans for this Vincentian journey?

When my time as president ends, I will serve on national committees and continue to be a part my parish conference. I will, if asked, assist the next president and their board as needed. I was recently invited to serve on the national peer review team to review requests from councils and conferences. I’m excited to discover what else is next! 

What advice would you give someone who is pondering a Vincentian Journey?

Do it! Don’t have any preconceived notions or expectations. Just open yourself up to whatever the Holy Spirit has in store for you. As a Vincentian, I love that I can share my time and talent with a group of like-minded people who have fun in serving neighbors in need, growing spiritually, and building friendships.

Belinda Abell is the external affairs director for Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky, Inc.

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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