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Aug 27 The first businessman to be declared a saint?


Today it's 1962 and we travel to Argentina where Enrique Ernesto Shaw, the Founder of the Christian Association of Business Executives was to die of cancer in Buenos Aires. Five years earlier when he was dying of cancer, 260 workers came to the hospital to give blood for a life-sustaining transfusion, a sign of the esteem that he was held in. This was as a result of his lifelong concern about improving the status of workers in Argentina.

 

His status as a Christian entrepreneur and business leader had lead him to establish a pension fund and a health care plan to provide medical services and financial support in circumstances such as illness and new births. Shaw himself said before he died that he was pleased that the blood of his workers coursed through his veins. He took a pilgrimage to Lourdes before his death.


As a navy officer he was sent in 1945 to the United States to study meteorology. He was tempted to be a blue-collar worker, but he came to understand that he should devote himself to the evangelization of the business community. Returning to Argentina he held different positions of high responsibility in Rigolleau Glassworks (manufacturers of Pyrex). However, he faced restrictions on individual freedom and private initiative imposed by the newly constituted regime of President Perón, and the pressures of workers. However even as a prisoner his reputation was burnished as he provided fellow inmates with mattresses that relatives brought to him as well as food.

Enrique worked with several important leaders of the European social democracy of the post-war period, such as Adenauer, Schuman and De Gasperi. The three European leaders would become the architects of the European Union – inspired by principles from Catholic Social teaching (see pod of Mar & May 15 ) Shaw learned from them and promoted in Argentina and then more widely in South America, advanced labour laws. In 1952 he founded the Christian Association of Business Executives with the assistance of Archbishop – later Cardinal – Joseph Cardijn. He became a prolific writer and he published a wide range of books including The Mission of Business Leaders in 1960 . He was also among the founders of the Christian Family Movement and he also served as the president of the Argentine Catholic Action. He also participated in the founding of the Universidad Católica Argentina, and joined the first Board of Directors as Treasurer

The process to beatify him has begun. In an interview conducted in March with the Mexican TV station Televisa, Pope Francis said, “I’ve known rich people and I’m moving forward with the cause for beatification over there [in Argentina] of a rich Argentine businessman. Enrique Shaw was rich, yet saintly. A person can have money. God gives it to him so he can administer it well. And this man administered it well. Not with paternalism, but by fostering the [personal] growth of people who needed help.”


Sara Shaw, one of Enrique's daughters, said that what she remembers most about her father was “how he enjoyed coming home. He would come in whistling. We kids would come running, and the whole atmosphere changed because it was like a party when he came home from work … he really enjoyed his family. He would have problems but he never unloaded them on us, not in the way he looked or what he said. Certainly he would talk with my mother, but we kids always saw him looking happy,” One of the family’s devotional practices was praying the Rosary. “He taught each one of us how to lead a decade, taking turns, and he used to tell us to mention our petitions out loud … and we used to walk to church on Sundays to get to Mass early. After Communion he gave us all a hug and had us pray the Anima Christi … that was very beautiful and a many people remember how he had us recite this prayer in thanksgiving after Communion.”

Fernán de Elizalde, himself a businessman and member of the Christian Association of Business Executives, is also vice postulator of Shaw's cause for beatification is convinced Shaw was a man of outstanding holiness. We’ll probably have in the future the first businessman saint in the world." Remembering his famous blood transfusion “. People at that hospital were wondering who had been admitted there because they couldn’t believe there were so many workers standing at the door, getting in line to donate blood – all the more so for an employer. They thought he must be a union member, but they never thought he was their employer.”