MARYLHURST — Orchids are finicky plants, needing water at times and dryness at times. It takes a diligent and patient soul to keep them blooming.

Enter Holy Cross Father Richard Berg, the orchid doctor.

Three years ago, a grocery store near Mary’s Woods was closing and had three decimated orchids to give to a good home. The priest, chaplain of the community, adopted the plants and coaxed them back to health, not reading about the process on the internet, but following his instinct. He placed the flowers in the sacristy of the chapel, where they are near sacred vessels and a few holy relics.

“It’s the light, not me,” Father Berg says.

Over the years, he has taken in orchids from residents, using the same natural green thumb and putting them in the same holy location, near a window. Residents have started to call it the orchid orphanage. It’s become one of the loveliest little spots in a vast and beautiful property.

“Armed with a spray bottle, a little plant pep-talk, and all the goodness the sacristy has to offer, Father Berg’s green thumb works a lot like a Midas touch,” says Holy Names Sister Kathleen Hepner. “Every orchid he adopts seems to blossom with life.”

Father Berg, former dean at the University of Portland, also established a strong ministry among homeless people and frail elders at St. André Bessette Parish in Portland.

One elegant lavender orchid he worked on belonged to Holy Names Sister Constance Lovick. As Sister Constance became ill with the sickness that took her life May 28, Father Berg revived her wilting flower. The plant reminds many people of the nun’s new life. The day she died, the last flower blossomed.

“In some ways, it was like a celebration of her life,” Father Berg says.

He brought the flower to her funeral.