“Praised be Jesus Christ!” is an ancient Christian greeting Archbishop Alexander Sample frequently uses. It came to mind today in connection with the fulfillment of the hopes of a distressed veteran.

This blessing happened thanks to the Catholic Sentinel online.

I’m the on-call Catholic priest chaplain for the Portland Veterans Administration Hospital. Recently a VA chaplain called to say a veteran was deeply troubled over a health crisis and really hoped to talk with either of two priests who had memorably connected with the veteran —years, or maybe even decades, ago.

The chaplain unsuccessfully tried the veteran’s idea for contacting one of the priests and couldn’t figure out how to find the other. So, she suggested pastoral ministry from the on-call chaplain instead. The reaction, I gather, was a resigned, “Ok.”

For some reason, the chaplain didn’t think to tell me the priests’ names as we got bogged down in, among other things, pandemic-related details of my involvement. Cutting through that, I asked who the priests were that he really wanted. I knew one: Jesuit Father Gary Smith.

Unsure of Father Gary’s current circumstances, I thought to search the Sentinel online while on the phone. That search yielded a profile from Aug. 16, 2019, “A radical compassion.” It reminded me about his connection with Portland’s St. André Bessette Parish.

Seeing no more recent reports about him, I gave the chaplain the number to that parish. She called, and the parish called Father Gary. Father Gary quickly contacted the veteran.

“Praised be Jesus Christ!” That ancient expression is fit to print (and post) in gratitude for the use of modern Catholic media to fulfill both the mission of the VA chaplain service and the particular hope of a deserving Catholic veteran.

Fr. Wood is a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland and a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise. He is pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Scappoose.