Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
Actor Gary Sinise, star of “CSI:NY,” received the Presidential Citizens Medal Dec. 10 in recognition of his work on behalf of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi children.
How did the TV and film star come by his ethic of service?
According to this account posted last year on The Intersection blog, his wife Moira’s unexpected and startling conversion to Catholicism played a key role:
“Actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, ‘CSI:NY’) was shooting a film in North Carolina one year when his wife and two children came to visit him on the set. The day they arrived, shooting was cancelled and everyone was told to evacuate the town because a dangerous hurricane was coming,” blogger Tony Rossi wrote in his blog entry, which is titled “A Might Wind.”
“Thinking the airports would be packed, Sinise and his family rented a car and raced toward Charlotte. Driving down the freeway chased by gale force winds, torrential rains, and alarming lightning strikes, Sinise’s wife Moira turned to him and, out-of-the-blue, said, ‘I’m going to go back to the Catholic Church,’” Rossi continued. “On the radio show ‘Personally Speaking with Monsignor Jim Lisante,’ Sinise recalled that his reaction to his wife’s statement was, ‘WHAT??!!’”
Why was Sinise so surprised by Moira’s decision? Because, as Rossi noted in his post, “Moira’s mother had left the Catholic faith when she was young so Moira wasn’t raised with any faith tradition. As a result, Sinise, Moira and their kids weren’t part of any religion. But Moira was suddenly insistent on this new element in their lives. She continued, ‘When we get home, I’m going to go to the Catholic Church and our kids are going to go to Catholic school.’ Sinise said, ‘I just looked at her.’”
Few people would blame Sinise for being confounded by his wife’s announcement of her unexpected decision to convert. But Moira followed through with her resolve.
And as the rest of Rossi’s blog entry at The Intersection recounts, among the good fruits that Moira’s decision has yielded is the Sinise family’s dedication to helping others — a dedication that led directly to the presidential honor bestowed on husband Gary last week.
“Despite a busy acting career, Sinise remains committed to helping others and has faith that things can change for the better,” Rossi wrote. “Maybe that faith is partially thanks to a North Carolina hurricane that changed his family’s life.”
— Tom McFeely