Richmond priest releases new book, "Among Friends"

For years Saint Mark Catholic church in Richmond has become synonymous with its annual event, Evening Among Friends that has drawn the likes of Bill Cosby and Dolly Parton to the central Kentucky parish.

WKYT's Amber Philpott sits down with the man with all the connections, Father Jim Sichko.

Father Jim candidly opens up about life as a priest, being a not so good driver and why he hopes a new book he has written will help others find joy in their own journey through life.

Most days and especially on Sunday mornings a certain black and white SUV makes it routine stop at the Richmond Starbucks. The drive is so well known the workers know him before he ever gets to the window.

When the driver gets to the window its his kindness that everyone always takes notice of when he pulls up.

It is a simple gesture, paying for another driver's bill and for the man behind the wheel its more than just a good deed.

"If you truly know who I am you know that my number one lesson in life is doing for others," said Father Jim Sichko of Saint Mark Catholic Church in Richmond, Ky.

When you sit down with Father Jim you learn a lot.

"Guess what, I'm not the best pastor, I'm not the best priest. I'm not the best driver as any one will say but I try!" said Father Jim.

He's human and not always perfect, in fact he admits he's been pulled over one too many times for speeding.

Father Jim admits he is learning to slow down.

In central Kentucky Father Jim has made quite a name for himself, not only in church but what he has done for his church through the friends he's made.

Step in his office and you instantly see the friends he's made over the years, his walls are covered with memories and reflections of good time and hard work.

You could call him an autograph hound, his larger than life personality lends itself to a number of stories all captured in the photo frames lovingly placed around his office.

It seems Father Jim is always among friends, he's connected with the likes of Regis Philbin, Harry Connick Jr., Bill Cosby, Donnie Osmond and even Dolly herself.

"We just kind of crossed paths and I'm not embarrassed to go and talk with them and go up to them and say hello to them or find some way of connecting with them."

For the last 10 years Father Jim has been inviting celebrities to his parish to help raise money for the church.

"The whole aspect of Evening Among Friends was simply to bring people of all walks of faith and all walks of life into a church that normally they probably wouldn't visit."

Father Jim's desire to serve others began at an early age when he would tell people he was going to be the Pope.

His road to serving a higher power hasn't always been easy, he was kicked out of seminary and his faith tested.

"Unexpectedly and very shockingly and to be honest with you it still has emotional scars from the church I now serve and love very much."

Life experiences like that one are what you will find in Father Jim's new book, "Among Friends, Stories from the Journey."

In it he details the ups and downs life has thrown his way hoping others will find a connection to their own journey in life.

"There are a lot of stories people can connect with that's number one, the second thing is joy I think we need a lot of laughter and joy."

Father Jim isn't sure where life might take him, or any of us for that matter, but he hopes we will all remember that we are always among fiends.

Readers of Father Jim's book will find one of the co-authors a familiar name.forwards written by Chas Allen, one of the young men convicted in the Transylvania book heist in 2004.

Father Jim taught Allen in school, and says he helped consult on this book.

Father Jim says it was important to include Allen's forward because it shows everyone has the opportunity to turn their life around.

Advanced copies of " Among Friends," will be available at a public book signing Saint Mark on October 17 at 7 pm. It is also available for pre-order on Amazon.

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