When sisters Taylor Blevins and Caitlyn Bailey were tragically killed when their car was struck head on by a suspected drunk driver earlier this month, a GoFundMe page was set up to help the family with funeral expenses.

That’s when Father Jim Sichko stepped in and covered the cost.

“I don’t know the family at all and have not had conversations with them,” said Sichko, also known as Father Jim.

Sichko serves as a papal missionary of mercy, one of 100 such people in the United States.

“Other papal missionaries have taken their role to teach people about mercy in academics,” he said. “I have chosen to take actions and use that as how I teach about mercy.

“One of the acts of mercy is burying the dead, and  I learned the family didn’t have the funds to bury the sisters. I had come upon the accident not knowing what had taken place, and the next day I learned what happened but had not heard the family was in need.”

When he did, he reached out to Johnson’s Funeral Home, which was handling the arrangements.

“I’m very grateful the funeral director was willing to work with me on this. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just me calling up to pay for someone’s funeral. Patrick Howard Florist helped with the casket sprays,” he said, adding he had no input in what type of service the family would have. “I wanted them to plan their loved ones’ funerals because that is part of the healing process.”

Sichko has done other acts of mercy throughout the state and country, but he does have some guidelines.

“One of the things I asked is the GoFundMe was taken down, and the funds I share go through the corporation, in this case, Johnson’s,” he said. “I use my role as a real life experience to challenge people that they to can do these types of things and inspire others to be merciful.”

Blevins and Bailey were killed on I-75 when a vehicle driven by Tammy Rodriguez was going the wrong way on the interstate.

Steve McClain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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