Parish priest personally pays the bills of 200 redundant coal miners

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Fr. Jim Sichko from Lexington really practices what he preaches!

When Fr. Jim Sichko from Lexington, Kentucky, heard from a parishioner that he was struggling to pay his electricity bill since being laid off from his job at the Blackjewel LLC. coal mine after it filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy, the parish priest took the extraordinary step to put his hand in his pocket and pay the man’s bill.

While this was a truly generous act in itself, Fr. Sichko, the grandson of a coal miner himself — who is also a motivational speaker, full-time preacher, and was chosen by Pope Francis to be one of a thousand Papal Missionaries of Mercy in the world — felt impelled to help others experiencing a similar plight.

The hundreds of coal miners employed by the coal mining company were left in financial trouble when their last paychecks, from the end of June, were pulled back from their accounts. Not only had they lost their earnings from the month before, they had no money moving forward.

Fr. Sichko decided that he wanted to practice what he preached. “These men and their families, they sacrifice their lives … It’s my duty, it’s really my command, or God’s command of me, to come out and be with them and to assist them,” he explained to the Herald Leader.

So to try and carry out his Godly duty, the generous priest arranged an event in the hall of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Harlan. One by one, miners and their wives received a check from the priest to pay their electricity bills and relieve their financial burden a little. In total the priest paid from his personal account an impressive $20,434.55.

With financial uncertainty for months to come, one out-of-work miner and father of three, Josh Holbrook, shared: “I don’t worry about it, because I know the Lord will provide, that’s just like this here — the Lord is providing.”

Although Fr. Sichko has offered these stressed families financial help, he’s demonstrated the importance for these miners to live in hope and faith, and that is beyond any financial measure.