|Saint Alberto, a happy guy|
Luis Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga was born in1901, a descendant of Basques. His dad died when he was four, leaving the family in financial decline. Fortunately, he was awarded a scholarship to a Jesuit school, which was followed by the Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, where he studied law. Yet he decided not to pursue a legal career, opting instead to become a Jesuit priest. He started his training in Barcelona, but was expelled in 1932 by the anti-clerical left-wing Republicans. He was ordained in 1933, but stuck around Belgium to earn his doctorate in psychology and pedagogy. Fortunately, he returned to Chile well ahead of the rolling Reich's Belgian blitz.
|Working with the wee ones -- Hogar de Cristo|
Father Hurtado wrote critically of the Church's priorities in Chile. He not only noted the imbalance in the priests' assignments, but also observed that rural priests were frequently under-educated in the catechism, offering little formal instruction to their congregations. Naturally, his complaints were dismissed as exaggerations. He continuous advocacy of the poor led his critics to eventually complain that he was a communist, a charge they surely would have stuck on Jesus himself had they met him.
I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that Father Hurtado had been found dead in a ditch or assassinated on the steps of a church. It was not his critics, but his pancreas that did him in. Stricken with pain in 1952, he was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a rapid, painful descent into death. He lived long enough to become the focus of the national media, propelling him from controversial activist to national hero. His example wasn't enough to prevent the coup in 1973 that killed tens of thousands of activists, but at least it provided a third path between the Marxists and the Nationalists.