December 5, 2014

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Look around: Does hope have an address near you?

David SilerJohn Etling, agency director of Catholic Charities in Terre Haute, likes to say that “hope has an address.” He will explain that at the corner of 14th and Locust streets—where all of the programs of the Terre Haute agency can be found—that, for those who have lost everything, including hope, this precious gift is available there.

There are many ways to describe poverty, but perhaps the poverty of hope is the most devastating. All of us will, at one time or another, lose a job, our health or a loved one, but when hope is gone, there is really nothing left.

While recently visiting one of Catholic Charities marquee programs in the archdiocese, Ryves Youth Program in Terre Haute, I met a woman named “Martha.”

Martha is the great-grandmother of three special needs children, who she is raising by herself. I didn’t get to hear the story of how it came to pass that mom and grandmother were not raising the children, but I suspect it was a story of hopelessness. Martha told me that she would not make it without Ryves to care for her two great-granddaughters after school and provide a meal each night during the week. Martha finds hope there at 14th and Locust.

I met Martha’s two great-granddaughters, who I believe were 16 and 17. I learned that her great-grandson has cerebral palsy, and isn’t able to get out much. The girls had just met me, but both of them wanted to give me a hug. I think that they could do that because they feel safe and loved there at Ryves.

Just like the Grinch’s heart that grew 10 sizes, mine expanded that day—mostly due to meeting this amazing woman who is going far beyond her call of duty as a great-grandmother. If I ever lose hope, I’ll think of Martha.

Later this month, we will celebrate the birth of hope for all of humankind in the person of Jesus, who came to Earth to make sure that we would never lose hope. He came to remind us that God loves us, and wants to be in a relationship with us.

He showed us with his very life that even in the midst of death, even the most brutal death, that there is hope—that life will always win over death, and God’s love will always remain.

In a world that can often seem short on hope, what are your addresses for that gift? Can hope be found at your workplace and in your home?

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at

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