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Sunday, December 11, 2016
Jesuits prepare to celebrate new saint
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¬†The British Jesuits are joining the Society of Jesus worldwide in celebrating the canonisation of Fr Alberto Hurtado SJ on 23 October. Fr Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit, will be among five new saints in the first canonisation ceremony of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate. Three specially produced prayer cards are being distributed in all Jesuit, parishes and other groups in Britain. They focus on three characteristics of Fr Hurtado's ministry: his care for the poor and passion for social justice, his deep spirituality, and his constant joy, represented in his often repeated phrase: 'Contento, seŮor, contento'. The Province's web site http://www.jesuit.org.uk features several pages on Fr Hurtado's work and life, plus links to photos and more detailed information, including many of his homilies and writings. And at St Ignatius Church in Stamford Hill, a concelebrated Mass in Spanish will be held at 4.30pm on the day of the canonisation, to celebrate St Alberto Hurtado SJ. Alberto Hurtado was born in 1901 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1923. While at University, his Spiritual Director said of him: "He was incapable of seeing pain without wanting to remedy it, nor indeed any need, without seeking a way to solve it. He lived in an act of love of God, which translated constantly into one or another act of love for his neighbour, his zeal overflowed; it was nothing but the springboard of his love. His heart was like a boiling caldron that needed an escape valve." After ordination in 1933, Fr Hurtado was involved in the founding of the Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Chile, and prompted Jesuit Father Janssens, the future Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to comment: "During my many years as superior I have never seen a soul radiate greater apostolic energy than that of Fr Hurtado." Fr Hurtado was renowned for his homilies and spiritual retreats, and had a deep devotion to the Eucharist. But he had a special affinity with young people, having been made first diocesan then national Moderator of the youth of Catholic Action. In 1945, having witnessed poverty on the streets of Chile, he set up the first of what were to become many hostels for the poor ≠ the Hogar de Cristo. "There are so many sufferings to heal," he wrote. "Christ stumbles through our streets in the person of so many poor who are hungry, thrown out of their miserable lodgings because of sickness and destitution. Christ has no home! And we who have the good fortune to have one and have food to satisfy our hunger, what are we doing about it?" Another major focus of Fr Hurtado's ministry was workers' rights. In 1947, together with a group of university students who wished to help the workers, he founded the Chilean Syndicate and Economic Action (ASICH), to make the Church more present in the field of organised labour, to put Catholic Social Teaching into practice, and to help defend the dignity of human work above ideological slogans. After a brief illness and aged only 51, Fr Alberto Hurtado died on 18 August 1952. His sanctity ≠ frequently commented on during his life ≠ was officially recognised by Pope John Paul II in October 1994 when he was beatified. "The figure of Fr Hurtado, illustrious son of the Church and of Chile, illuminates us," said the Pope. "He saw Christ himself in needy abandoned children and in the sick. Can the Spirit raise up apostles of the stature of Fr Hurtado in these our days as well, men who show the vitality of the Church by their self-sacrificing witness? We are convinced that this can be and so we ask for this with faith." Father Alberto Hurtado SJ will be canonised in a special ceremony presided over by Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter's in Rome, on Sunday, 23 October.
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