About three dozen Georgetown students, faculty and staff gathered for a mass in Dahlgren Chapel yesterday afternoon to celebrate the first member of the Georgetown community to be raised to sainthood.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Alberto Hurtado, S.J., former Georgetown Jesuit and Chilean social justice advocate, during a ceremony Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Hurtado had previously been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994.
Hurtado lived among Georgetown’s Jesuit community while studying at Catholic University between 1945 and 1946
Father Philip Boroughs, S.J., said during the mass that Hurtado demonstrated a “short but important life of service and commitment.”
“We reflect on the way he integrated a Jesuit spirituality,” Boroughs said, referring to Hurtado’s lifelong commitment to aiding Chile’s poor and marginalized.
Father Cristobal Fones, S.J., visiting from Chile, delivered the mass’s homily.
“Christianity is Jesus Christ loved, served, followed and imitated,” Fones said of Hurtado’s teachings.
Recounting examples of Hurtado’s various ministries, Fones added, “He was an ignited preacher, writer of many books, [and a] worker in the mines.”
Hurtado was born in Chile in 1901 and attended the Jesuit school in Santiago where he began his ministry to the poor, according to literature circulated at yesterday’s mass. He studied for more than 30 years and also spent time teaching before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 1952.
Hurtado’s legacy can best be seen in the Hogar de Cristo residences, which he founded throughout Chile to serve the country’s many women, children and laborers living in poverty. His influence has permeated Chile’s public policy since the government’s transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1990.
“This man was crazy about Christ . for him the poor is Christ,” Fones said.
Octavio Gonzalez (COL ’06), spent a summer living and studying in Chile, where he says Hurtado is revered as a national hero.
“He really started a movement that is nationwide [in Chile], and you don’t ever get that in the United States,” Gonzalez said, noting that Hurtado inspired the Chilean government to declare a national day of social justice.
Thanks to Hurtado’s visibility on television and his eloquent speaking ability, the current generation has a rare opportunity to closely connect with a saint, Gonzalez said.
Boroughs prayed that current Georgetown students will hear the same call to Jesuit ministry that inspired Hurtado’s life of service.
“Father Hurtado showed us the path; let us follow in his footsteps,” Fones said.