Enrique Ernesto Shaw was born on February 26, 1921, in Paris, France. He was one of two children of Argentine parents, Alejandro Shaw and Sara Tornquist Altgelt. The family moved back to Argentina in 1923. Sadly, Sara passed away in n 1925. Before she died, she made her husband promise that he would have the boy's religious education entrusted to a Sacramentino priest. Enrique's dad kept his promise.
Enrique was enrolled in the Colegio de La Salle in Buenos Aires. He was not only an outstanding student, but his deep religious faith was stood out. He attended Mass every day and received Holy Communion. He quickly became one of the directors of the Marian Congregation.
Enrique had a committed desire to join the Naval Military School. His father objected, but Enrique persisted, and, at the age of 14, he began his training as a naval cadet. The training ground for his classes was the harsh sea of the South Atlantic. Here is where he trained as a naval officer and carried out apostolic work by continually giving powerful testimony of faith. He was among the top three in his class and became the youngest graduate of the school to graduate.
The moment of his "Conversion"
An avid reader who had absorbed book after book from a very young age, Enrique never found the topic that piqued his genuine interest. He had read books on such topics as politics, philosophy, history, and science to no avail. Finally, at the age of 16, he picked up a book on the Social Doctrine of the Church. He knew he had found the topic he had sought. He called this moment his "conversion."
Enrique and a few friends had gone to Buenos Aires a few times when they are given leave. It was on one of these visits he meets a girl named Cecilia Bunge. They fell in love and are married on October 23, 1943. They would go on to have nine children together, with one of them becoming a priest. Enrique taught them all the importance of the Rosary and the proper way to use them. He always made a point of taking them to church every week. He set a fine example as a Catholic father.
At the end of World War II, Enrique started his business. By 1952, he established the Christian Association of Business Executives. He did this with help from Archbishop Joseph Cardijn of Belgium, who would later become a Cardinal. Enrique also became a prolific writer publishing many books dealing with justice and honor in the workplace. He promoted intense evangelizing aimed at the business class in Argentina and Latin America. UNIAPAC, founded in Europe a few years earlier, had now reached the other side of the Atlantic.
He defines the role of Supervisors
Regarding the role of supervisors, Enrique wrote, "there is a human community; that workers participate in production and, therefore, give the worker a sense of belonging to a company. Help him acquire a sense of his duties towards the community, a taste for his work and, therefore, of the life. Being a "boss" is not a privilege. It is a function."
Enrique Shaw was one of the founders of the Christian Family Movement in Argentina and was president of the Argentine Catholic Action. He also established a pension fund, a health care plan, and financial aid in circumstances of illness and childbirth.
Loved by the Working Class
In 1957 Enrique was diagnosed with cancer. His work activity was shortened to speaking at conferences and writing. He was so admired by workers that in 1962, as he was nearing the end of his life, 260 workers showed up at the hospital to give blood for a life-saving transfusion for him. Enrique would say how happy he was that the blood of his workers flowed through his veins. He died on August 27, 1962. He was 41 years old.
On April 24, 2021, Pope Francis declared Enrique Ernesto Shaw a man of "heroic virtue," elevating him to the title of Venerable. Enrique's next step in the canonization process will be Beatification.
Venerable Enrique Shaw, please pray for us.
Copyright©Larry Peterson 2021