"In 1944, a homeless man approached Fr. Hurtado on the street on a cold night.
"A poor man, in shirtsleeves, suffering from tonsillitis, and shivering with cold, approached me saying he had nowhere to find shelter,"
Fr. Hurtado wrote of the life-changing experience. A few days later, while directing a women's retreat, he recounted this experience to his audience and asked them to turn their thoughts to the poor.
"Christ is without a home!" he said.
"Christ roams through our streets in the person of so many of the suffering poor, sick and dispossessed, and people thrown out of their miserable slums; Christ huddled under bridges, in the person of so many children who lack someone to call father, who have been deprived for many years without a mother's kiss on their foreheads — Christ is without a home!
Shouldn't we want to give him one, those of us who have the joy of a comfortable home, plenty of good food, the means to educate and assure the future of our children? 'What you do to the least of me, you do to me,' Jesus said."
This inspired the women to pool their resources, which allowed Fr. Hurtado to open his Hogar de Cristo
, or Home of Christ
, houses for the poor. The first Hogar house opened in 1945 and quickly attracted volunteers; within a few years similar houses spread across Chile. The houses offered shelter and taught technical skills and Christian values. Between 1945 and 1951, some 850,000 children were helped by Hogar de Cristo.
In addition to his work with Hogar, his retreats and outreach to youth, he wrote several books and founded the journal Mensaje
, a Catholic magazine highlighting the social teachings of the church, which is still published by the Chilean Jesuits."