By Adam Dodd adodd@news-herald.com @therealadamdodd on twitter

Ahead of the Jan. 20 national holiday, Bishop Gerard Mirbel has been awarded the Governor’s Humanitarian Award by the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission.

Elevated to bishop in 2018, the Haitian-born humanitarian has been a community fixture within Painesville for years.

His Miracle Revival Ministry, 182 West Jackson St., not only holds mass but also provides meals and clothing for those in need. He often works in concert with local non-profit, Little Annie’s Hope Train, under the same effort.

His outreach has remained constant during his elevation to bishop, but he acknowledges the wider opportunity it offers.

“When you become a bishop when you write someone a letter the attention it gets is doubled,” Mirbel said.

The Governor’s Humanitarian Award, given to Mirbel Jan. 17 during a ceremony held in Columbus, serves to highlight those that carry on King’s legacy through their actions and words. Mirbel’s nomination came courtesy of State Rep. John Rogers.

“In 1964 when Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize ‘The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold,’” Rogers stated that in a news release. “In that light, (Bishop) Mirbel and his wife are indeed wealthy souls, because theirs is a lifestyle that is a shining example in my opinion of what constitutes the genuine brotherhood that King speaks of.

When I consider Dr. King’s words from his 1963 book, ‘Strength to Love,’ in which Dr. King says that, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,’ (Bishop) Mirbel, to many, is a refreshing light in their world of darkness,” Rogers added. “He is a light kindled by love in a world of selfishness, one, frankly, that is often filled with hatred and bigotry. (Bishop) Mirbel simply exemplifies that which Dr. King asks of each of us!”

Mirbel said it was an honor to receive the award.

“It’s amazing. It’s not something that happens every day,” he said.

Mirbel references King’s six principles of nonviolence as important aspects of his own teachings and beliefs.

“Because of nonviolence, a lot can happen,” he said. “What he accomplished all over the world, why won’t it help us in our own community?”

Bishop is far from the only title Mirbel holds. In the past, he’s served two terms as president of the Lake County Branch of the NAACP. He sits on the board of directors for the Western Reserve Community Development and the Lake County Library District as well as works in Cleveland’s Oakwood Village as part of the United Pastors group.

“2019 was a great year that kept me busy, but 2020, they say, is double vision,” he said. “We have to help people see that the things you don’t have are the things you must wait for.”

Mirbel has also partnered with Ohio Guidestones’ Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program in order to provide an internship/mentor role for students like DeMarcus Montgomery. Currently preparing to take his GED tests at age 16, Montgomery has been shadowing Mirbel and assisting with his services’ live music.

“Once I take my GED I’m going to start college next January at a musical arts school in Florida,” Montgomery explained. “What I do with young men like this is give them guidance and speak to them,” Mirbel says. “This will help them get to the next level, help them realize what they need to do.”