I was delighted to see my friend Fr. Jim Sichko popped up in the pages of Aleteia yesterday. His fundraisers in Richmond, Kentucky—featuring a lot of well-known names—have become the stuff of legend, and he is a tireless promotor not only of his parish but also important social issues. (Last year, when Christian persecution in Iraq first made the headlines, he made the bold decision to paint a large Arabic “nun” letter on his church front door, signaling solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East.)
The pastor’s annual “Evening Among Friends”fundraiser attracts the likes of Dolly Parton, Martin Short, Harry Connick, Jr, Regis Philbin, Donny Osmand, Laura Bush and many others, and the evening of fun and entertainment keeps St. Mark’s parish and its school running, and the tuitions for needy students covered. Fr. Jim talked to Aleteia about his school, the kids, his stories, and his annual star-studded fundraiser. You’re known for very effective fundraisers. Can you tell us about your approach and well it works? My approach is through story telling: lived experience mixed with some very blunt storytelling. I try to empower individuals to understand the whole concept of Stewardship; that everything we have is from God and goes back to God. Finally, I am not embarrassed to beg. I am not embarrassed to share across Social Media and in person, the need that exists in our Mission Diocese of Lexington. I am grateful that for the past 12 years, [at our “Evening Among Friends” fund-raisers], people of all walks/ways of life, faith, ethnic backgrounds have come to-gether for an evening of food, fellowship and entertainment. What is the role of storytelling in conveying the faith? People love storytelling. From the moment we are born to the moment we die — people love sharing and learning from experience. Jesus told stories – Parables and from these stories he had an underlying lesson. The same for me, as preacher, teacher and missionary (and now was just appointed by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy for the Holy Year) I use real lived experiences in helping the parish and those abroad see the real face of Christ in our children – and be challenged by it as well.
Photo: from Fr. Jim Sichko