I was deeply moved by Charlie Gilchrist's death ["Montgomery Prototype Charles Gilchrist Dies," Metro, June 26]. I knew him when he was a priest at St. Margaret's, where he taught me to make sense of meaningless tragedy. I turned to him when two men were shot to death on my doorstep back at the beginning of the crack cocaine epidemic in the fall of 1989. We grieved together over the senseless slaughter of young black men and the needless suffering of eyewitnesses -- mostly children. He showed me how to use my energy to help other victims of trauma.

Frank Ahrens's well-written June 26 Style article about Charlie, "The Miracle of Charlie Gilchrist," brought tears as I remembered Charlie's life and example. Then I laughed as I read further because my most distinct memory of Charlie is the day he lugged a bushy, 8-foot-tall donated Christmas tree up the elevator and into my tiny studio apartment on Massachusetts Avenue, where we had to tie the tree to the window to get it to stand up. He knew I needed cheer, and he brought it.

It was not until I read that article that I knew that this towering man, both literally and figuratively, was anything more than a shepherd to his flock. If every man were as humble, helpful and spiritual as Charlie, our world would be a different place. His generous spirit lives on in the countless thousands of people he helped.

J. B. McCRAW

Arlington