His knowing smile and everyman disposition are instantly recognizable on screen.
Those qualities were not lost on some 2,000 Knights of Columbus, their families and church leaders who were delighted by a surprise encounter with actor Gary Sinise during the fraternal organization's Aug. 5-7 convention in Orlando.
Sinise traced the deepening of his own spirituality and faith in part to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was invited, as a celebrity, to support first responders and later service men and women serving in Iraq.
He noted the example of Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain for the New York Fire Department who died helping victims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
"His simple prayer, 'Lord, take me where you want me to go. Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say. And keep me out of your way, ... is very special to my wife and I," Sinise said.
"In his last homily given on Sept. 10 the day before he died, Father Mychal said ... each of us has no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us,'" the actor added. "Father Mychal would lay down his life for others the following morning. I have met so many selfless and courageous people who inspire me each day to carry on the mission."
In the late 1990s, Sinise said his wife, Moira, was in Chicago performing in an Irish play set in a tavern when she started to reconnect with the Irish Catholic side of her family. Moira was not raised in a religious home but her mother was Catholic by birth and her father was Methodist, according to Sinise.
Soon after, Sinise said his family was in North Carolina where he was working at the time, when a hurricane approached.
"As we are racing down the highway in the rental car, trying to outrun the storm as lightning and wind and rain and thunder are chasing us ... Moira, out of the blue, turns to me and says, 'When we get back home I'm going to become a Catholic, and our kids are going to Catholic school,'" he said.
After two years of classes, on Easter Sunday in 2000, Sinise's wife was confirmed in the Catholic Church "and my children and I were there by her side. We were so proud of her and how far she had come," he said.
In 2010, on Christmas Eve, he told his wife and kids they were going out for a special dinner. Unbeknown to his family, he had been attending private sessions to be confirmed, he said.
So before their dinner the family stopped to see a priest, "and in a small quiet ceremony on Christmas Eve, surrounded by my family, who I love and cherish dearly ... I was officially confirmed into the Catholic Church. It was a very special night in our lives."
"The church has been a rock for me and my family in some of our darkest and most difficult times," Sinise told the Knights.
Mr. Sinise's story resonates.
When my wife was fighting breast cancer, when things were a bit rough at the office some time ago, and especially now that evil seems to be running ramshod globally, the Church has been and continues to be a rock for me. She has become my proverbial port in the storm.
She can become the same for you dear reader. She can.