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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

St. Alberto Hurtado

The Saint of the Day for August 18 is St. Alberto Hurtado

Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga (1901-1952) is famous as a pioneer in the Latin American Church’s activities in favor of the working poor. The founder of El Hogar de Cristo 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 while Hurtado was studying theology; the young Chilean finished his 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. "Hogar" means home, and the name signifies that people were welcomed into Christ's home. The movement spread beyond Chile and throughout South America. In 1947 he founded AsociaciĆ³n Sindical Chilena, a trade union movement. Hurtado also wrote three books on social issues and in 1951 started a monthly magazine, Mensaje ("Message") that explains the Church's social teaching and addresses social issues.



I love St. Alberto and I admire his message, though I believe those in the left will interpret it to be a backdoor to Communism. St. Alberto himself said he is NOT a Marxist and for that I am glad. He did follow Our Lord in Jesus' admonition to care for the poor. And St. Alberto had his own Calvary with his last illness - pancreatic cancer that killed him Aug. 18, 1952, at the age of 52.
If you get a chance, please make sure to watch EWTN's "Story of a Holy Man." It's in Spanish with English subtitles and it is excellent. Cristian Campion, who portrays this wonderful, holy priest, is outstanding!

Regina said...

I agree with your last commenter- St. Alberto is a wonderful saint for our times! I feel a great devotion to him myself, and I was thoroughly impressed with the "Chronicles of a Holy Man", aired by EWTN for many years now.
His love for the poor, and his priesthood, make Padre Alberto a very attractive and meaningful saint, esp. now for the Year of the Priest.