For over a year now, Deacon Jack Koenig has been the spiritual advisor to St. Vincent de Paul Louisville, but this isn’t the first time he and his wife, Donna, have been involved with the organization. They started volunteering as Vincentians at Our Mother of Sorrows parish in 1997.
In 2008, Jack was approached about becoming a Deacon. He thought a lot about it and ultimately decided to dedicate the next four years of his and Donna’s life to becoming an ordained Deacon. He also became more involved with St. Vincent de Paul Louisville.
During his year of discernment, Jack was told to go to a place outside his comfort zone. For Jack and Donna, that doesn’t exist. He volunteered in the Ozanam Inn Men’s Emergency Shelter and assisted with the St. John’s recovery program that was active at Ozanam Inn at the time, sometimes even leading the sessions. It was an easy decision for him to give of his time at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville because his heart lies in helping the needy. “I still know some of the guys that graduated from the class,” Jack said of his time as a volunteer.
Donna got involved at St. Jude Women’s Recovery Center, working with the women going through recovery. Back then, the women stayed upwards of a year in the recovery program, and Donna got to know many of the women well and helped them to break down their walls and barriers of trust. “There is a lot of need around, so we love to do it,” she said.
As the Spiritual Advisor to St. Vincent de Paul Louisville, Deacon Jack will lead prayer before meetings, participate in the induction of new Vincentians, and once led a prayer service when a White Flag guest passed away. Of his presence, Deacon Jack says it “keeps the idea of God in what we are doing.”
Where did this passion come from? For Deacon Jack, it was both of his parents’ active involvement in their church and community. At a young age, he knew he wanted to be a doctor and serve people. It was during his time volunteering at Kosair Crippled Children Hospital that he knew he wanted to be a pediatrician.
Donna’s passion was seeing her mother’s generosity, but mainly when her daughters started getting involved in high school. This past year the Koenig’s volunteered at Santa Shop with their daughter and granddaughter. Donna said, “There were smiles on their faces, and there were a lot of thank-yous for what we were doing. We didn’t come for that. We came to help. That’s not why you come. I enjoy meeting the people.”
Sometimes you don’t realize who’s watching. Deacon Jack & Donna were at an event with their granddaughter, where attendees could purchase food. Seeing there was so much food left after the event, their granddaughter wanted to buy the unsold food and give it away to the homeless. The caterer heard what she was doing and ended up giving it all to her for free. They then drove around, passing out food to the homeless. “You’re really surprised when you see it go forth. You do it because you want to, but you don’t realize they (grandchildren) are watching you,” Donna said.
Donna adds, “We feel like we are seeing the face of Christ in people and it means so much to us. If you start looking for it, it’s easy to spot. But most people don’t see it. Seeing them because they are people. Not because they are in need. That’s where it all comes from. Treating them with respect.”