José Fco Yuraszeck Krebs SJ (CHL)
These days it's quite likely that many of our clothes are made in various parts of the world, far from where we live. Have a look at the label of the shirt you are wearing: it surely reads Made in China, or Vietnam, or Bangladesh, even if you bought it in a shop which has been in your country for years and in times gone by made clothes in its own workshop. The same can be said for almost everything we use on a daily basis. I am from Chile, and in recent times I have been overjoyed to discover in a number of places the existence of a non-traditional export: the figure of Father Hurtado, Saint Alberto Hurtado.
On the 18th of August I was fortunate to celebrate his memory at another anniversary of his death in Scampia, Naples. The centre which the Jesuits run there, under the auspices of the parish, and with the collaboration of many other people, bears the name of Father Hurtado. It is one of the most difficult neighbourhoods in Naples where, we were told, the Camorra completely took control of the area - they called it the drug supermarket - to the extent that police didn't dare enter. Only years later were order and peace able to be partly restored, following a sizeable intervention, simultaneous to the construction of one of Europe's largest prisons very close by. In the Alberto Hurtado Centre in Scampia, among the many programs that are offered, men and women of various ages learn a trade and make notebooks and exercise copies, hats and t-shirts, with the brand Made in Scampia, in an attempt to show to the world that not just drugs, conflict and violence, are produced and sold there, but also strength, resilience and community.
I have come across this name in so many moments of my life: in the lead up to his beatification in the year 1994, when the story of his vocation and his life given in service to the Kingdom of God was shown on television. A little later I became more familiar with Infocap - The Workers University in Santiago de Chile - inspired by the figure of Father Hurtado, who spoke of the immorality of a society which doesn't give a central place to its workers. In this institution, a volunteer project came into being, which invited young students to experience the reality of families living in the slums. Over the years "Un Techo para Chile" (A Roof for Chile) took shape, now simply "Techo", which is present in 19 countries in Latin America. During this time and through getting to know the richness of Ignatian Spirituality in the exercises, I was awakened to my calling to the Society of Jesus, which was confirmed to me after a period volunteering in the Father Hurtado hospice, of Hogar de Cristo (Home of Christ).
As a Jesuit I was blessed to be able to work for a few years in the Jesús Obrero parish, neighbour to Father Hurtado's great project, Hogar de Cristo, and the shrine where his remains lie. I returned to work with Techo the year following Father Hurtado´s canonisation in 2005, a moment of celebration which awoke in some of us the need to inspire Christian communities in the slums and the neighbourhoods where we work, collaborating with families and leaders to build their houses and to dream of a better country. It was in the parish of Jusús Obrero where I celebrated my first Mass as a priest, now nearly four years ago, together with so many people dear to me, and the following three years I worked with the Ignatian University Centre in the University of... Alberto Hurtado!
I write these words from Rome, where I find myself studying a degree in Moral Theology in the Gregorian University. Here I discovered that there is a Centre for Faith and Culture which has the name Hurtado, and that all over the world Jesuits have used his name, his inspiration and intercession to baptise communities and initiatives most diverse in nature.
Father Hurtado was a passionate follower of Jesus, who lived with his senses attentive so as to recognise the active and interpellate presence of God in the world and in history. From this service I am spurred to others: to serve, to academic and intellectual work, to community and union organising, to making the world a more welcoming, brotherly, supportive place. This manifests itself in very diverse ways: giving a hand, a plate of food, a roof to sleep under. Additionally, promoting initiatives of integral development with a deep sense of what it means to be Christian, in harmony with what the Vatican Council II confirmed a few decades later and what the Society of Jesus declared as its present mission: the service of Faith and the promotion of Justice which this faith requires.