When Vincentian and Jesuit Saints Meet

by | Aug 21, 2019 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change | 1 comment

This is no joke about “A Jesuit, a Vincentian and Franciscan appeared at the gate of heaven …” The reality is much more profound.

Albert Hurtado is a Jesuit saint who sounds an awful lot like St. Vincent. At least that is what I felt as I was reading “Why more U.S. Catholics should know about St. Alberto Hurtado, S.J.” Celebrating his August 18 feast day, the article pointed to three particular features of St. Albert Hurtado’s life that Americans should know about.
  • His attentiveness to the material needs of the poor,
  • His fervent commitment to justice for workers, addressing root causes of poverty
  • His passionate prayer life.

So different yet so similar

The three traits certainly are similar to traits of St.Vincent de Paul. They certainly would have a lot in common as they sit around the heavenly table with the poor they loved so much. To me, it is striking that these two men came from different parts of the world, lived in different centuries, and were nourished by different traditions within the Church.  Yet their mantras were so close.
  • Following Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor
  • To be another Christ.
For both, these mantras were ultimately their path toward sanctity.

Looking closer at Padre Hurtado

He was attentive to the material needs of the poor,
Father Hurtado had a pickup truck, and with it, he would journey out at night in search of people in need. He went down to riverbeds, ducked under bridges and traveled the streets of the metropolis. The plight of countless homeless children moved him. He would clothe them, give them food and set them up with a place to stay.
“Christ stumbles through our streets in the person of so many poor who are hungry, thrown out of their miserable lodgings because of sickness or 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?”
He had a fervent commitment to justice for workers, addressing root causes of poverty

But Padre Alberto Hurtado was also a tireless critic of the structures of injustice and an advocate of Catholic social teaching. For him, it was not enough to give alms. Be present to the poor and struggle for justice.

Share what you have with the poor and challenge the structures that keep them poor.
Give away as much as you can – trust in the loving providence of God and live in solidarity with the poor.
Above all, follow Jesus….

One must work for justice. He once stated this very blatantly:

“Marx said that religion was the opium of the people. But I also know that charity can be the opium of the rich.”

Albert Hurtado: saint of the Poor

His prayer life was profound

“Lord, help me to speak the truth in front of the strong
and not say lies to gain the applause of the weak.
Help me always see the other side of the medal…

“Teach me that forgiving is the grandest for the strong
and that revenge is the primitive sign of the weak…

If I fail people, give me the courage to ask pardon.
If the people fail me, give me the courage to forgive.
Lord, if I forget You, don’t forget me.

The prayer of St. Alberto

How about our...

  • Commitment to the material needs of the poor
  • Commitment to addressing the root causes of poverty
  • Commitment to prayer


1 Comment

  1. Sr. Marjory Ann Baez

    Thank you!

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