Man of all seasons

For many years, I told my wife, Judy, that we needed a Jesuit pope to bring about necessary changes in the Catholic Church. When I studied at Boston College, one of 30 such institutions in the United States, I soon realized what it means to be a Jesuit.

The Society of Jesus is Jesus-like in its service to the people. It focuses first and foremost on Christ’s own words: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

Pope Francis, a Jesuit, responds to the Lord’s words, the crux of Catholicism, by focusing on actions rather than words. He leads by example patterned after Jesus. He brings the Church back to its tenets, away from mere appearances. He deplores the hoarding of money to the detriment of the poor. He shuns the symbols of authority: limousines, expensive clothes and ornate apartments. He hates the sin but loves the sinner. He speaks in the language of the listener. He genuinely appreciates the role of priests, brothers, nuns, married people and celibates. He is willing to come to people rather than expecting them to come to him.

In Pope Francis’ first year, he received a heartfelt response from Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, fundamentalists and atheists. He was named “man of the year” by TIME Magazine and even graced the front cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. He has a Twitter account.

Never has a pontiff made such an impact in his first year and been the subject of conversation everywhere. Paradoxically, this very humble man has become a sensation.

Ross Paradis
Frenchville

Elect Bellows

U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows offers Mainers an exciting chance to make a course correction. Our state and our nation need to reorder priorities. Bellows fully grasps the crisis of Maine and the nation’s sagging economy, as well as the global environmental threat of climate change. She understands that Congress must shift its priorities to put people first. Our society is increasingly lopsided, with the richest individuals and corporations receiving grotesque tax breaks and subsidies. The rest of us pay the tab. Bellows will work for a more equitable and sustainable society.

Unlike her opponent, Bellows will not endorse trillion-dollar U.S.-sponsored wars that serve no justifiable purpose. Instead, she will support a foreign policy that brings parties to the table to talk, to shape a more peaceful world. She will support well-paying jobs, health care and educational opportunity for all. She will not support the concept that corporations are people.

In Congress, she will reach across the aisle and work with both political parties as well as independents. She has strong ideals, and she has the motivation and pragmatism to accomplish things from day one. She is passionate about keeping government from illegally spying on us or anyone else.

I urge readers to check out this hardworking woman’s record of achievement. Bellows believes in our country, in its people, and in our collective ability to make the government work for all of us, not just a select few. She will be accountable to you and me. It’s time to elect Bellows as the next United States senator from Maine.

Steve Cartwright

Waldoboro

Reinvest in programs

One of the four departments slated to be cut at the University of Southern Maine is the recreation and leisure studies department. The program houses two degree options — therapeutic recreation and community recreation — and two minors in recreation leadership and nature-based tourism. In addition, we offer coursework that students in nursing, health science, health fitness, holistic and integrative health, gerontology, and the tourism and hospitality programs are required or elect to take. We coordinate the health and wellness and aging well clusters, which are part of the general education offerings, and we house the interdisciplinary gerontology certificate.

The recreation and leisure studies program has been growing, with a 54 percent increase in students just this year. Recently, we have had three retirements and no replacement faculty. As a result of this retrenchment, and no reinvestment, the department is down to one full-time faculty and is being slated for closure.

The program contributes to the health, well-being and quality of life of our state, including those who are ill or disabled, and assists in treating, managing and healing. Given health care costs, don’t we want to invest in health promotion and wellness programs that assist people in taking responsibility for their health? Do we really want to cut programs that are successful, interdisciplinary and contribute to meeting the needs of our state?

Why isn’t the administration willing to reinvest in programs that are prosperous and profitable?

Nancy Richeson

Recreation and leisure studies professor

University of Southern Maine

Alfred

Support Cutler

The people of Maine need opportunity. Rugged, hardy Mainers don’t want handouts; they want opportunity. They recognize that our leaders have put ideology and party politics above the interests of the people of our state for too long.

The welfare and health care system in our state is inefficient, large and expensive: Too many of our fellow citizens are caught in the safety net out of necessity. Secure jobs, which provide a living wage, health insurance and opportunity, have been declining in our state for decades. Too many skilled and able Mainers are unemployed or underemployed. Average family incomes have steadily fallen, while the cost of living has risen.

Too many families are working harder for less, risking financial ruin if a family member becomes seriously ill. It’s high-time we had an adult in the Blaine House who knows how to lead and is focused on solving problems rather than scoring political points. From what I’ve seen, independent Eliot Cutler is the only candidate able to do that.

The effort to improve Maine and expand opportunity must begin by building upon the strengths and assets of our state. Cutler understands the uniqueness of Maine and has a positive vision to put those assets to work for all of Maine. Washington cannot provide solutions to Maine’s challenges, and the politics of divide and conquer have paralyzed our state government.

Maine needs the independent leadership of Cutler now more than ever. I hope you’ll join me in supporting him.

Mark Brunton

Old Town