“This book is my Midrash.” With these words, Father Jim draws us into his life story full of laughter, tears, and service. Among Friends is a compilation of short stories and insightful lessons experienced on his many travels as a clergyman and motivational speaker. Whether recounting his sobering flying experiences, meeting the Pope, his encounter with the “Weed Man” or telling us about his “lead foot,” Father Jim teaches us lessons through powerful storytelling. As he takes us along on his journey from getting kicked out of seminary to hosting celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Harry Connick Jr., Martin Short, Bill Cosby, and former First Lady Laura Bush, at his small Kentucky parish, Father Jim shines a light into the corners of the human heart to expose our need for God and the love He alone can give us. You will laugh, cry, and be taken back by his honesty. In all, Father Jim shows us what it means to love God, love others, and live life Among Friends.
I love stories. I’m thinking I’m not alone in that, either. Billions of
dollars are spent on novels, movies, and even video games. Why? God
made us to function through story. Not only did He reveal Himself in
the greatest-selling Book of all time, but He made story a vital part of
how we communicate with each other.
Think about it. We are a storytelling people. From the moment
we are born, growing up through school and beyond, we love hearing
stories being read and told to us. We love sharing experiences that
we have lived, seen, or heard. For me, as a storyteller, preacher, and
speaker, stories provide the opportunity to communicate in a powerful
way with people in everyday language with down-to-earth tales.
I think back to my own days at St. Mary Catholic School in
kindergarten and how we loved to sit in a circle and listen to Mrs.
Richard read to us. We learned from the plot, the characters, and their
actions. She read with a passion and belief that captivated our little
minds. Most importantly, the stories struck at our hearts.
Why do you think Jesus told stories to make His point? Indeed,
He is a master storyteller in all of His parables found in the four
Gospels. He would use everyday situations that people understood. He
used characters that people would recognize in themselves and others.
Even more interesting, Jesus didn’t always provide the answers. He
let people figure out His meaning by telling them, “He who has ears,
let them hear.”
God gave me a very interesting life story, as you’re going to see
throughout this book. I like to think He gave me this life so I could tell
stories from my journey. As you might guess, when I travel to speak
at different places, I am often asked two questions. First, “Are your
stories true?” and, second, “How do these experiences always happen
My answer is simple: Yes, the stories are true, and yes, they do
happen to me, and they happen to you! The real question that needs
to be asked is, “Do you and I have the eyes, the ears, and the hearts —
not to mention the minds — to recognize the wonderful opportunities
and teachable moments from the experiences of our day?”
Through sorrow, pain, joys, and exultations, our experiences
teach us; they stretch us. For me, stories empower and illumine the
life of Our God who is ever present with us on this journey through our
experiences that we call “Life.”
Father Jim W. Sichko Father Jim W. Sichko is a priest of the Diocese of Lexington, KY. He was ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood of Jesus Christ on May 23, 1998. He travels throughout the U.S. giving missions, retreats, and days of recollection. Known for his storytelling, Father Jim weaves everyday life experiences with the rooted messages which lie within the Gospel. He is booked for speaking engagements through 2015. Each engagement lasts a minimum of three days and averages 3,000 people per night. Father Jim completed his undergraduate work at New England Conservatory of Music in Vocal Performance and received a Master of Divinity degree from Sacred Heart School of Theology.
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