FLASH

Fr. Hernán Astudillo

Fr. Hernán Astudillo is a priest, a musician, a poet, a philosopher, but the one thing that describes him best, is that he is a humanist. Born in 1963 in the little town of El Valle, Cuenca, Ecuador, Fr. Astudillo’s life has been one of faith, freedom and fearless struggle.

His struggles against intolerance and injustice began at a very early age. When he was nine, his family left El Valle and moved to Sucua in Morona Santiago. It was here, under the benevolent guidance of the Salesian priests that Fr. Astudillo learned the gospel of compassion for the oppressed and the under-privileged. As he grew spiritually, he developed a great appreciation and understanding of the rich indigenous heritage. In high school, he participated in sports as well as cultural, musical and religious-pastoral activities.

After graduating from high school, Fr. Astudillo went to the University of Cuenca and the Diocese of Azuay where he studied philosophy, theology and anthropology. Here his paths crossed with Bishop Luis Alberto Luna Tobar, a man who had dedicated his life to the cause of the poor people. Greatly influenced by the Bishop’s commitment to the poor people, Fr. Astudillo became an ardent supporter and worked relentlessly to further their cause.

 

Fr. Astudillo remained committed to improving the plight of the impoverished. He spread the word of faith and hope amongst the oppressed communities in Shina and in the parish of San Cristobal. The political instability in Ecuador of the 1990's was the impetus for the Father to leave his homeland and take refuge in a land that favors benevolence - Canada.

 

In 1992, Fr. Astudillo came to Canada as a political refugee, but his heart remained with his people. In Canada, came a different set of challenges. As a new immigrant, he was faced with the struggle to survive in a culture foreign to his existence. Language barriers, culture shock, lack of a viable livelihood, all forced him to do what was necessary to survive in his adopted home. From playing music in the subway to playing in charitable concerts and at street festivals, the Father experienced first hand the life of an immigrant.

His struggles in Canada gave him a new perspective and sealed his desire to help all who lived on the fringe. On June 6, 1999 he was ordained as the first Hispanic Anglican priest in Canada and established the first Spanish-speaking congregation in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. His contributions to his community and society grow with every passing day. His empathy for the neglected and his love for humanity were instrumental in creating, together with his community, the Caravan of Hope and the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre from which Radio Voces Latinas 1610AM was borne.


On May 25th, 2009, Fr. Hernan received an award from Mayor Miller on behalf of the City of Toronto in recognition of the Caravan of Hope and his contribution to our city. Being present in the chambers as this honour was bestowed upon Fr. Hernan and witnessing the standing ovation he received prior to his heartfelt speech, was truly an emotional moment not only because this was recognition of his many accomplishments, but also because it was a testimony to the efforts of many within the San Lorenzo community and the greater Latino community of Toronto.

 

The Toronto Museum Project, created by the City of Toronto, acknowledges the richness and diversity of our city through the personal stories shared by a group of our fellow Torontonians. An unique component of this project, is that each personality conveys their storey through a treasured artifact. Father Astudillo is the only Latino to have been selected as one of the 100 personalities included in the Project. Read more about Father Astudillo and his precious mandolin by linking to:

 

http://www.torontomuseumproject.ca/Stories/Details.aspx?ID=20

 

Fr. Hernán Astudillo is a man of many talents. As a priest he provides spiritual sustenance, but as a human he touches lives with hope and compassion in a world where these are rare commodities.