Tuesday, 18 August 2015

18th August

Alberto Hurtado
1901 - 1952

I hold that every poor man, every vagrant, every beggar is Christ carrying his cross. And as Christ, we must love and help him. We must treat him as a brother, a human being like ourselves. If we were to start a campaign of love for the poor and homeless, we would, in a short time, do away with depressing scenes of begging, children sleeping in doorways and women with babies in their arms fainting in our streets. St. Alberto Hurtado

Chilean priest, lawyer, social worker, educationalist and writer, he served the poor in Chile and founded the Hogar de Cristo for young people.

Born in Chile, Hurtado was four when his father died. He grew up in financially challenging circumstances but gained a scholarship for Jesuit school in Santiago. He studied law and
entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. After studying philosophy and theology in Spain and Belgium he was ordained priest in 1933.

In 1940 he began working for Catholic Action and in the following year became the national director of the youth organisation. He published Is Chile a Catholic Country? stirring up considerable controversy with some critics labelling him a “communist.”

Alberto Hurtado founded his own organisation for poor and abandoned young people, Hogar de Cristo. The Hogar de Cristo shelters quickly spread throughout Chile and served thousands of needy youngsters.

He established the Trade Union Association of Chile and published three volumes on the labor movement.

During the 1990s there was a TV series: "Chronicles of a Holy Man" dedicated to him. He remains very popular in Chile to this day. His Facebook page has more than 50,000 followers.