1921 (Paris, France) – 1962 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
While the great majority of saints have chosen to live in poverty, Enrique Shaw came from a very rich family and was a rich man himself. How is that possible, when Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)? Let’s look at his story to understand better what Jesus is asking all of us too.
Enrique, whose mum and dad were from Argentina, was born in Paris, where his dad was working at the time. Can you guess what his dad did there? No, he was the head of a bank! And this means that Enrique’s family was very rich. They lived in a large house with servants, travelled around the world and went on luxurious holidays.
When Enrique was four years old, his mum died of an incurable illness. Can you imagine how he must have felt? That’s right: the poor lad was devastated. And it was then that Enrique started to feel very close to Mary. When he lost his own mum, Enrique discovered Mary, whom Jesus gave to us all as our mum in heaven.
At the age of fifteen, Enrique joined the navy, where he was the youngest sailor on a battleship. Can you imagine that? And because he prayed before going to bed and talked about Jesus, the other sailors made fun of him. But this did not stop Enrique! He worked hard, was serious about sport and studying, and little by little the other sailors grew to like him and respect him. Even while living on a battleship, Enrique saw God all around him in the beauty of the ocean, its waves, the moonlit nights and stunning sunsets.
Over the years Enrique became an officer and brought and end to the injustice he suffered when he joined the navy. He taught those serving under him to treat each other with kindness. Enrique was always interested in everyone around him – whether they were important people or not, and he went out of his way to become their friend. Do you try to do that at school or in your neighborhood?
When he turned twenty, Enrique prayed to God to help him to live the Gospel well. He understood that he needed to share it with everyone by being kind and cheerful. Enrique also felt the call to get married and with his wife they had nine children. Because of his family, he left the navy and wanted to become a simple worker, like many saints who have given up their riches to follow Jesus. But, a priest advised him to do something else instead. Because Enrique’s family owned factories, the priest told him that he could do a lot of good by running them and by living according to the Gospel at work. Like that Enrique would make the lives of all the people working in his factory better and lead them all to Jesus.
Enrique took this call very seriously and ran a glass factory so that he always had the good of his workers in mind. He kept the factory open even when there was little money and when others would have closed it. That would have left the workers unable to feed their families. And Enrique also became friends with the workers of his factory, which is very unusual! One time, a new person started working in the factory and they assumed that Enrique was an unjust boss, like so many others. When Enrique heard about this, he went to see that man and invited him to have lunch with his own family. The man couldn’t believe Enrique’s kindness! Have you ever done something good that surprised others?
When he was only thirty six years old, Enrique fell ill with an incurable cancer. Instead of being angry or giving up, he accepted this hard challenge from God and continued living for the good of his workers. He also brought together the leaders of other factories and companies and spread the Good News of the Gospel to them, showing them that their work too could be for the good of everybody.
Shortly before Enrique died, he needed blood for the many operations that kept him alive. When his workers heard about this, they all lined up to give him some of theirs. This made Enrique very happy as he felt very close to his workers, whose blood now ran through his own veins.
Pope Francis, who was the archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina before, was actually the one who suggested that Enrique was a saint. Why do you think that is? Pope Francis said: “Enrique Shaw was rich, but he was a saint. In other words, a person can have money. God gives it to them so that they may manage it well. And this man managed it well. Not by looking down on his workers, but by helping them grow when they needed his help.”
Will you too follow Enrique’s example and use what you have for the good of others?
“I must love God and all whom He loves, seeing others through the eyes of God.”