Saturday, August 22, 2009

St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ - August 18th

I really don't want the week to end without acknowledging the August 18th Feast Day of one of our new favorite Saints of the Americas, Chilean Jesuit St. Alberto Hurtado, who was canonized in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga (1901-1952) was a pioneer in the Latin American Church’s activities in favor of the working poor. The saint directly experienced poverty as a young man when his mother was forced to sell the family farm after his father’s death. However, a scholarship allowed Hurtado to study at the Jesuit school in Santiago. He joined the Jesuits in 1923 but the Spanish government "dissolved" the Society of Jesus in 1932 and expelled many of the Jesuits including Hurtado and Fr. Pedro Arrupe who would go on to become the order's Superior General. The young Chilean finished his theological studies in Belgium where he was ordained. On returning to Chile, Hurtado exercised a typical Jesuit ministry of teaching and giving retreats.

His concern for the poor eventually led him to become director of Catholic Action, and in 1944 to ask women on a retreat to think of the men, women and children who were without a home to live in. The women responded with donations which Hurtado used to open first a hospice for youth and then one for women and children. This was the beginning of El Hogar de Cristo. The movement spread beyond Chile and throughout South America. In 1947 he founded Asociación Sindical Chilena, a trade union movement (more on ASICH here). Hurtado also wrote several books on social issues and in 1951 started a monthly magazine, Mensaje, that explains the Church's social teaching and addresses social issues.


Padre Alberto Hurtado
Apóstol de Jesucristo,
servidor de los pobres,
amigo de los niños
y maestro de juventudes,
bendecimos a nuestro Dios
por tu paso entre nosotros.
Tú supiste amar y servir.
Tú fuiste profeta de la justicia
y refugio de los más desamparados.
Tú construiste con amor
un hogar para acoger a Cristo.
Como un verdadero padre,
tú nos llamas a vivir la fe
comprometida, consecuente y solidaria.
Tú nos guías con entusiasmo
en el seguimiento del Maestro.
Tú nos conduces al Salvador
que nuestro mundo necesita.
Haznos vivir siempre contentos
aun en medio de las dificultades.
Haz que sepamos vencer el egoísmo
y entregar nuestra vida a los hermanos.
Padre Hurtado,
Hijo de María y de la Iglesia,
Amigo de Dios y del los hombres,
Ruega por todos nosotros.

Father Alberto Hurtado
Apostle of Jesus Christ,
Servant of the poor,
friend of children
and teacher of youth,
we give praise to God
for your passing among us.
You knew how to love and serve.
You were a prophet of justice
and refuge for the neediest.
With love you built
a home to receive Christ.
Like a true father,
you call us to live a committed,
consistent faith, in solidarity.
You guide us with enthusiasm
in following the Master.
You lead us to the Savior
that our world needs.
Help us to live always content
in the midst of difficulties.
Help us learn to overcome egoism
and devote our life to our brothers and sisters.
Father Hurtado,
Son of Mary and of the Church,
Friend of God and of men and women,
Pray for us all.



This video of Pablo Coloma's beautiful "Canción a Alberto Hurtado" is especially meaningful because the singers are a choir from the Bio-Bio regional branch of the saint's nonprofit association, Hogar de Cristo:

1 comment:

  1. I am aware of some of the rules that the church has in place in order to canonize some one, make him/her a saint but sometimes I ask myself the question: Does it make a difference for the departed soul to be made saint or not? Is it mostly for the benefit of the living that the process of sainthood exists?
    So we can venerate, pray to and honor this particularly exceptional individual.

    To me the worth of the deeds of the works that he/she leaves behind are already with us and his/her soul shines on the glory of their reflexion. Many can be thought as saints too, but they never will be pronounced as such according to the cannons. Comes to mind Vicente Ferrer, whose work can be somehow equivalent to that of Teresa of Calcutta, but having left the church to marry, will see.
    My impression is that those that receive praises and blessings from the living fort their deeds in life, receive this upward flow of love, either if they are made officially saints or not.