August 18th – Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Alberto Hurtado, the modern Chilean, Jesuit saint for whom the Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme (AHP) at Clongowes Wood College is named.
A dedicated scholar, priest, and servant of the poor, Padre Hurtado, as he was popularly known throughout his native Chile grew up in poverty following the death of his father when he was 4. Throughout his childhood he, with his mother and brother moved constantly staying with different relatives to survive. This experience of poverty and homelessness had a deep effect on him and led to his wish to tackle and address social issues and inequalities caused by poverty throughout his life. He was granted a scholarship to the Jesuit School of St Ignacio in Santiago, Chile and from his teenage years spent his weekends working with the poor and impoverished in the slums of Santiago.
Following school, he studied Law (focussing on Labour Law) and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1923. He travelled to Europe and studied Philosophy and Theology in Spain and Belgium and obtained a doctorate in Pedagogy and Psychology in Belgium in 1935. He also spent some time in Germany, France and the Netherlands visiting social and educational programmes. Hurtado returned to Chile in 1936.
In 1944, he founded the Hogar de Cristo an organisation to support poor and abandoned young people. This organisation continues his work to this day. Following a short illness, he passed away on August 18th, 1952, aged 51 years. Padre Hurtado was beatified in 1994 by Pope John Paul II and then canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2003.
The Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme at Clongowes
The Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme [AHP] at Clongowes, in operation since 2007, is a bursary scheme which offers opportunity to boys who might not otherwise fulfil their potential because of socio-economic disadvantage. There are currently thirty-six bursary students at the school while sixty-one students have graduated from the Programme having completed their 6 years of secondary school education at Clongowes. The impact of the programme has been significant and positive for the entire Clongowes Community with the AHP students standing shoulder to shoulder with their classmates participating and oftentimes excelling in the range of academic, co-curricular and sports that the College offers.
The Alberto Hurtado Bursary programme at Clongowes is funded by generous support from past pupils and current and past parents of the college. The programme aims to provide up to seven bursary places each academic year. In recent times an Endowment fund was launched to secure funding for the AHP into the future. The generosity of a number of past pupils and the Jesuit Province allowed this permanent fund to be launched in 2020. No withdrawals from the fund will take place until 2025/6.