‘It costs nothing to be kind.’ Rev. Jim Sichko performs random acts of kindness


Photo provided by Rev. Jim Sichko.

Grace Medley, Reporter

Lexington-based papal Missionary of Mercy Rev. Jim Sichko travels the world teaching and showing kindness to others.

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Texas, Sichko has been a practicing priest in Lexington for 23 years and a papal Missionary of Mercy for seven. A papal Missionary of Mercy is a priest selected by Pope Francis to be “persuasive preachers of mercy,” as defined by Missionaries of Mercy in the USA.

Catholics celebrated a special year from Nov. 8, 2015, to Dec. 20, 2016, known as the Holy Year of Mercy (also known as the Jubilee Year of Mercy or the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy). During this time, Pope Francis selected and named 700 priests to be papal Missionaries of Mercy. He selected Sichko as one of these men.

Originally, this group of priests would only remain a collective for the duration of the holy year. “With one month left to go, Pope Francis surprised everyone and said ‘I’m now going to make this indefinite,’” Sichko said.

As a papal Missionary of Mercy, Sichko travels around the world, sharing his charism with others while he does so. A charism is defined by Merriam Webster as “an extraordinary power (as of healing) given (to) a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the good of the church.”

Sichko said his charism is “preaching, evangelizing, and doing random acts of kindness.” These acts of kindness have ranged from handing out Starbucks gift cards to paying for the funerals of suicide victims.

Hailing from a family that believes in generosity and kindness, Sichko feels that doing random acts of kindness is natural to him due to his upbringing.

His random acts of kindness are often unplanned, even larger scale ones such as donating a total of $75,000 through monetary gifts and gift cards when he visited Isom IGA.

Sichko said many people feel apprehensive when confronted with a random act of kindness or generosity.

“As I’ve traveled the world doing random acts of kindness, it’s amazing to see how oftentimes people in our day today seem to be somewhat skeptical of someone doing that,” Sichko said. “Whereas life is about doing things like that, and if we don’t learn from that, it’s a pretty sad society.”

On the morning of Nov. 6, former UK student Sophia Rosing physically and verbally assaulted Boyd Hall desk clerk Kylah Spring. Sichko learned about the incident through social media soon after it was posted on Instagram.

“I then immediately just said, I know when I’m called to do something, and I just did it. I just put it out there,” Sichko said.

In a tweet posted Nov. 7, Sichko extended an offer to Spring. The tweet reads, “If someone is able to find a social media contact for (Kylah Spring) – YOUR SPRING BREAK TRIP FOR YOU AND A FRIEND IS PAID FOR BY ME – for showing CLASS, RESTRAINT, and RISING ABOVE this situation!”

While Spring and Sichko have not yet met in-person as of Nov. 11, they have had contact through Facebook Messenger.

One thing Sichko believes in is the inherent goodness of people.

“The one thing you find in life is that people are, even in this situation, extremely generous. People are good overall,” Sichko said.

Sichko said he believes compassion and forgiveness go hand in hand, and he plans to reach out to Rosing.

“How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time, remain in touch with them, or with their humanity, enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?” Sichko said. “This could be an amazing moment of inner healing, of transformation, of growth, of acknowledgement of hurt.”

One message Sichko hopes people glean from his work is how easy it is to show kindness to others.

“It costs nothing to be kind. Kindness is free,” he said.