New Hampshire leaders find hope in variety of places
The message of Easter is one of hope and redemption. But it seems like there's a lot to be discouraged about these days, from the still-sluggish economy and governmental dysfunction here at home to wars and other crises around the world.
So we ask: Where do you find hope?
The Most Rev. Peter A. Libasci, bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester:
Many things that discourage us in day-to-day life are things controlled by other people; limited, sometimes misguided, sometimes self-serving, sometimes sinful people. If we put our hope in people alone, we are bound to fail.
So where do I find hope? From the Psalms: "I find my hope in God my strength. He is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, he is my God in whom I trust." And from the book of Job (who really suffered): "I believe that my Redeemer lives. And on the last day I shall rise from the dust and in my flesh I shall see my God and Savior. My very self shall see Him — my own eyes!"
The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop, Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire:
I find hope in the myriad ways around us that God is doing new things. It seems the "mainline" churches are finally setting aside their need to fortify the high walls that in the past defined them as denominations.
I see signs that we are recovering the ancient wisdom that God's glory is displayed when we practice God's presence in loving service to our neighbor.... For me, an undeniable sign of God's glory is when we choose (physically or in other ways) to wash each others' feet, including those of the stranger, the poor, the homeless.
Jesus always shows up in those moments in a sense that there is a Presence that is stronger than death and greater than the sum of us breaking into our awareness. In fact, it's with such actions as these that God has chosen to save this fallen world.
Gov. Maggie Hassan: I have always found hope in the strength of New Hampshire's communities and the willingness of our people to help those around them. My family has experienced this strength firsthand as we've raised our son Ben, a smart and funny Exeter High School graduate who happens to have severe physical disabilities. Those around us have always gone out of their way to support Ben and have helped him to be a full and active participant in his community.
I remember once when Ben's wheelchair broke a wheel, a problem that can be extremely difficult and time-consuming to repair. When the students in the technical program at the high school heard, they sprung to action, went to work and fixed Ben's chair themselves, restoring his mobility and independence in a matter of hours instead of what would have been days.
I know stories like ours, where Granite Staters pitch in and work together to help one another, happen across New Hampshire every day, in every town and city. And that always gives me hope.
Sister Maureen Sullivan, OP, theology professor at St. Anselm College: As a Christian, this season is filled with a promise for me ... a promise of new life with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Our church is not merely a "human institution" Rather, it is divinely founded and divinely guided, and if we attune ourselves to that presence, we really are not alone in this journey. That is a great comfort to me.
New life is indeed a possibility ... and each of us is in need of new life, of reform and renewal. Easter renews that promise.
I also believe that the election of a new Pope is for all Catholics a sign of "potential promise" of renewal. I see this as a pivotal moment for renewal and "hope" for our church.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.: I get to meet so many young men and women in New Hampshire, and their motivation and enthusiasm never fail to give me hope.
Just this week, I had the opportunity to team up with the New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork to raise diabetes awareness at a middle school in Derry and also read to students at Seabrook Elementary as part of Read Across America. The energy of students was contagious. Seeing their smiles and that excitement in our young people is a sight that never gets old.
Melanie Gosselin, executive director, N.H. Food Bank : In spite of the many challenges we will face this year, our hope is centered around continuation and growth of the generous support we receive from Granite Staters.
Their support allows us to continue to provide for the basic needs of the over 143,000 New Hampshire neighbors facing hunger daily through food distribution and also helps us continue to fight the root causes of hunger through our innovative educational and empowerment programs, enabling more people to become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.
Richard Ober, president, N.H. Charitable Foundation: I find hope in many places. I find it in those who act beyond personal interests, like teachers and firefighters and police officers. I find hope in my neighbors who spend hours every month on planning and zoning and select boards for little or no pay. I find it in kids I know who live with chronic illness or disabilities with more courage and grace than I could muster.
And I find hope in the donors, volunteers and professionals who make up the vibrant network of charitable organizations that make New Hampshire work. Hope is the driving force behind those who give time, talent and treasure to help others they will never meet — or who may be born long after they are gone. So my hope comes from knowing they are there and having the privilege of working with them every day.
U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.: My faith and my parents gave me the gift of hope. One of my favorite lines from the Bible is, "Let not your heart be troubled." My parents were so optimistic and hopeful, and they shared it with their kids. I can still hear them saying such things as good triumphs over evil, most people are good, we are never given more than we can handle, better days are ahead, things always work out, count your blessings, look on the bright side. I believed them at the time, and I still do!
Eddie Edwards, chief of enforcement, N.H. Liquor Commission: I find hope in God's gift of sacrifice. I am reminded on Easter that God so loved the world He gave His only son. The message of giving that creates hope could not be clearer to me. I believe; I must give hope to others if I am ever to find hope in others.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.: I find hope whenever I look at my two young children. They're the future of our country, and making sure all our children have the same opportunities I had is what keeps me motivated and hopeful.
Devon Chaffee, executive director, New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: When courageous men and women stand up for what is right and what is just — here in New Hampshire and across the country — it fills me with tremendous hope. It reminds me of the remarkable power of empathy and compassion and is a testament to the abundant potential for positive change.
Eva Castillo, N.H. Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees: I believe that every person's true essence is love, joy and peace. Life's frustrations can make us step away from that truth and take on negative traits....
It is easy to despair after I hear all the negative comments made against immigrants and the prospect of an immigration reform. ... I use that frustration to fuel my passion for justice for my fellow immigrants.
I find hope in the certainty that we are all connected by spirit and will do the right thing once we can tap into that force.
The central figure of Easter, Jesus, was once an immigrant. His family fled their land looking for safety and better conditions just like our present-day immigrants.
Jesus encouraged us to forgive, as He forgave those who took His life. In the spirit of Easter, I pray that legislators find compassion in their hearts to support a path to citizenship for our immigrant brothers and sisters.
U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.: There's no shortage of cynicism or dysfunction in Congress. But what makes me so optimistic — what continually gives me hope — are the people I meet all across our great state. Parents who are working hard to provide for their families. Business owners who are creating jobs. Teachers who are educating our students. Young people who are focused on their futures. They're the reason I got into public service in the first place, and they're the reason I've never been more hopeful about our future.
I also draw hope from my new colleagues in Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — who share my commitment to finding common ground and working together to move our country forward.
Dominique Rust, vice president and chief operating officer, N.H. Catholic Charities: Our program directors are seeing visible, tangible signs of hope each and every day. It's the light in the children's eyes at St. Charles as they learn behaviors that enable them to participate in school. It's a young mother realizing she can follow a new path and better care for her baby through OUR PLACE's mentoring, guidance and parental education. ... It's finally finding a home where you belong and becoming an American citizen with the help of our Immigration and Refugee Legal Services....
And for some people, hope is hearing, "Yes, we will help," and walking with you as you regain your life through mentoring programs, support groups and assistance through Parish Community Services....
And for those who have lost their way, hope is seeing your life getting back on track when all seemed lost.
Linda Saunders Paquette, executive director, New Futures Inc.: I find hope in the existence of good in my life. I see good in my 89-year-old mother, whose kindness, optimism and spirit have inspired so many during her life. I see good in my children, who are making a positive difference in the world. I see good in my colleagues, whose commitment to our work improves the quality of life in New Hampshire.