The Hurtado Centre
Building a community for truth and justice
Rebecca Gormally is the Programmes Manager of the Hurtado Jesuit Centre in Wapping - a Jesuit residence, where seven Jesuits live. It is home to the important Jesuit Refugee Service, and it also offers to East London a place of Ignatian community. It is named after St Alberto Hurtado SJ (1901-1952) a Chilean Jesuit, lawyer and social worker, founder of the influential ‘Hogar de Cristo’, which provided homes for abandoned young people. He was dedicated to making Catholic Social Teaching more widely known and understood. He was revered for his saintliness and canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
I started work at the Hurtado Centre only ten months ago now. Discussing my new job with a friend we remembered Theology on Tap - theology discussions in pubs, which used to take place near Farm St Church. The idea stuck with me, and was the seed of Philosophy on Tap. My thought was that Philosophy can reach the unchurched, the ignorant on doctrinal matters, who have a real thirst for truth and justice. Philosophy is a place where fundamental principles can be explored that can then spring forth into a defence of truth and justice.
While we might not necessarily inspire another Alberto Hurtado, Philosophy on Tap can be a place where real thinking is done on key issues which impact on social justice. It can be a place where busy Londoners are given space to ponder and discuss fundamental questions over a drink with friends as well as experts.
Our first Philosophy on Tap was on 6th June at Stepney City Farm, a fun combination of farm animals, gardens, pottery, and a lovely cafe bar. Following a talk on ethical finance by Dr Michael Black, former director of the American Stock Exchange, we sat long into the evening over glasses of wine discussing whether an ethical banking system is possible. The towers of the city stood in the background, but around us was the peace of a farm, and the bubble of animated conversation. ‘It is really important to have something like this’ one Catholic who works in Canary Wharf observed to me. And the numbers attending, particularly of young people, and those working in the city make this completely apparent.
Three weeks later we hosted an animated discussion at the Turk’s Head pub on the place for faith in politics led by Fr Frank Turner SJ, former director of the Jesuit European Social Centre in Brussels. This in turn was followed by a talk on ‘Healthcare and the Economy’ at the Yurt in the St Katherine’s Foundation.
Philosophy on Tap expresses something of what the Hurtado Centre is about, forming a thinking community striving for social justice, and bringing together settled as well as new immigrant communities along with the Docklands business community. Building this simple sense of community is an important service in a sometimes fractured and overwhelming city like London.
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Get to know our community
Have a listen to this playlist to find out about the centre, who Alberto Hurtado SJ was and more including their community listening project.
Pray with us
Perhaps we can pray to be more like Hurtado himself in our own communities
"To be an apostle does not signify wearing some insignia on your jacket; it does not mean talking about the truth, but living it, becoming incarnated in it, transformed in Christ. To be an apostle does not mean to carry a torch, to possess the light, but to be the light…"
St Alberto Hurtado SJ
Alberto Hurtado (1901-1952) was a Chilean Jesuit, lawyer and social worker, who in 1944 became the founder of the influential ‘Hogar de Cristo’, which aimed to provide homes and shelter to assist poor and abandoned young people in Chile.