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Letter: A Good Form of Discomfort

To the Editor:

Recently Pope Francis criticized an “economy of exclusion,” pointedly asking, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” With this gentle reproach fresh in mind, it was gratifying to see the Valley News give sympathetic attention on Sunday to the passing of Matthew Harriman, a homeless man who apparently died from exposure.

It is uncomfortable to see such an event given front-page attention, but it is a good discomfort. It makes us think of those in our midst who do not share, whatever the reason, in the ordinary comforts and benefits of life. We feel a combination of responsibility and consternation: How can I help? Jordan Cuddemi’s article did a fine job of conveying human dignity — of a man with his virtues and weaknesses — and serves as an inspiration to love and understanding.

At this time of year, Christians celebrate a savior who came into the world in a situation of cold and homelessness. Christmas is a festival of light in the darkness. Our hearts are drawn to those who go without, and we pray that the light grow brighter in all the dark places. Thank you for drawing our attention to Mr. Harriman’s life and death. May he rest in peace.

The Rev. Francis Belanger

St. Denis Parish

Hanover

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‘We Are Going to Miss Him’: Homeless Claremont Man Remembered as Caring

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Claremont — Matthew Harriman’s friends and family deemed him an outdoorsman, and, indeed, living under the stars became a way of life. The 49-year-old Claremont man enjoyed fishing, hiking and watching wildlife pass right before his eyes. “He loved raccoons, deer and fisher cats and foxes, and he loved deer tracks,” said his mother, Rosalie Harriman, who is in her …