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Pope Francis gifts to be auctioned off to help Western Kentucky tornado victims

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - More support continues to roll in for Western Kentucky.

Father Jim Sichko will be raffling off two gifts given to Pope Francis to raise money for people in Western Kentucky.

When visiting Vatican City, Father Sichko said he is extremely thankful he was able to go after a medical scare earlier this month. Now, his focus is shifting towards his next assignment, helping the victims of the western Kentucky tornadoes.

“God never abandons us even in the most difficult of times, in fact in the most difficult of times sometimes we’re called to run and lean on God and our faith,” said Father Sichko.

Father Sichko says Pope Francis expressed that sentiment when he met with the Holy Father.

“When the Holy Father saw me, one of the first things he asked was, ‘How are the people of Kentucky? How are tornado victims?’”

The Pope assured him that he and the world are praying for the people of Western Kentucky.

Father Sichko brought Pope Francis two gifts from Kentucky. A bottle of Old Fashion Vintage 1995 Bourbon and a basketball signed by Coach John Calipari with a message to the pope.

“He was like, ‘Are these a gift? Or not a gift?’ And I was like, ‘Well, they are a gift to you, but I’m asking you then to gift them back to me so they can help others,’ and he said, ‘Of course.’”

Father Sichko says he’ll auction those off when he gets back to the states and that money will go towards helping tornado victims.

“There are going to be times throughout the year where they are going to call out saying we need supplies, we need this, we had it at first. This is not just an instant fix, this is a long road back to recovery,” said Father Sichko.

Father Sichko will be in Vatican City through the end of the week where he will celebrate Christmas Eve Midnight Mass with Pope Francis before coming back to Kentucky.

Father Sichko says he plans on traveling to Western Kentucky after he returns to the commonwealth.

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