Memorial of St. Alberto Hurtado, priest and religious

Today is the feast day of Saint Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit priest. St. Alberto Hurtado was beatified on October 16, 1994, by Pope John Paul II and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23, 2005. St. Alberto Hurtardo was one of the first people to be elevated to sainthood during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.  He became the second Chilean saint, after Saint Teresa of Los Andes.

St. Alberto Hurtado was known for his engagement with Chilean culture and his work with young adults and the poor. Little less known was St. Hurtado’s intellectual works. He published numerous articles and books on the problem of the Church in Chile. One of his primary concerns was the role of the priesthood. He wrote an article entitled The Priesthood Crisis In Chile, which addressed the problem of the shortage of priests in Chile. In his book Is Chile a Catholic Country?, he published statistics revealing a lack of priests assigned to the working class and rural populations, including detailing parishes that had 10,000 laypeople assigned for one priest covering huge geographic areas. His solution was to increase and better educate the clergy. Furthermore, he criticized the level of catechism instruction offered in Chile, and wrote that young men often signed up as catechists but lacked the necessary certificate.

The Gospel today presents a similar issue to what St. Alberto Hurtado had to face in his life.  Invitations to a wedding feast had been sent and attending should be a joyful, jubilant and happy time.  Why would the guests not want to go?  The problem is not simply why the guests would not come, but that there are not enough servants to go to the main roads and invite people to the feast. The Church needs more servant leaders to go out into the streets and tell people that “the feast is ready”.

August 18th, 2016