Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit, died in 1954 after
a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Though he lived only 51 years, a Jesuit
for 29, his legacy continued to grow, spurred on by his dedication to providing
strong Catechesis, education and leadership training to the poor rural
communities across Chile. On October 23, 2005 - less than 50 years after his
death - he was canonised by Pope
Benedict XVI, becoming the second saint of Chile.
Today, St. Hurtado’s influence continues even in a
mostly secularized society. The metro station at the heart of Santiago, the
Chilean capital, is named after him and the shelters (“Hogar de Cristo”) and
social services he started have become a network that have served millions
since their founding.
At a time when the majority of clergy in Chile were
foreigners, Hurtado saw the mission of the Church through the eyes of a native
Chilean. He knew the most pressing needs that the Church could address, and the
congregations that were underserved. As legend goes, he bought an old green
pickup truck and used it to monitor the streets of Santiago, providing protection
and assistance to all he could find.
This legend has endeared Father Hurtado to new
generations who admire people who serve those who most often go unserved. They
look at his shelters, his community activism, his hand in the formation of
unions that protected workers and the vulnerable, and his teachings born not
only from study, but from experience. They see all of that and in him they see
the best of Chile.
At a time in history when so many around the world
suffer from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Alberto Hurtado is an
inspiration to those who would devote themselves to the service of the most
Our journalist Luca Pirola
talks about this saint of our times with Chilean Jesuit, Fr. Marcelo Gidi.
Father Marcelo is currently teaching Canon Law at the Pontificia Università