Though this saint’s death made national news in the 1950s, St. Alberto Hurtado may not be someone you’re familiar with. This dedicated scholar, priest, and servant of the poor is an exceptional example of what it means to become a saint right where you are—along with how to live the Gospel among your everyday circumstances.
Fr. Alberto Hurtado lived during the first half of the 20th century and was well known for serving the Church and the poor in his native country of Chile. When he was younger, he attended a Jesuit school and eventually studied law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. After entering the novitiate for the Society of Jesus and finishing his studies for the priesthood abroad, he was ordained a priest in 1933 and, three years later, returned to Chile to teach at his alma mater, offering his education, talents, and service to the place he called home. He courageously published a book called Is Chile a Catholic Country?, challenging long-held conservative beliefs of his country that didn’t align with Church ideals.
Along with his writings about concerns for the faith and laborers, Fr. Hurtado had a special concern for the poor, and he reached out to those in need, especially the youth. He founded his own organization for young people who were poor or had been abandoned—he called it Hogar de Cristo, “Home of Christ”—which spread throughout Chile, serving thousands of souls in need of shelter. He would even drive around at night looking for poor people to serve.
Fr. Hurtado passed away shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1952. He was beatified in 1994 by Pope John Paul II and then canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2003.