On the Rev. Eduardo Bresciani Undurraga’s father’s side, ancestors fought for Italian unity with Giuseppe Garibaldi’s forces. On his mother’s side were heroes of Chilean independence.
Such stories run deep in a family. His parents were married in November 1947, on the same day as the future Queen Elizabeth and Phillip. When I visited him on Monday at his home in Bellflower, he told me that even though his father, an architect, was born in Santiago, when he’d comment on Chilean affairs, Eduardo’s mother would laugh and say he didn’t know anything about it because he was a foreigner.
Politics got heartbreakingly serious in 1973, when the U.S., under my former boss Richard Nixon, supported the overthrow of Chile’s elected president, Salvador Allende. Eduardo said eight of his college friends were disappeared by the harsh regime of Allende’s successor, Augusto Pinochet. Eduardo’s family’s political ties kept them safe. He went to school with one of Pinochet’s daughters and remembers the future strong man picking her up after classes when he was a young army officer.
Trained as a social worker, Eduardo moved to the U.S. in the seventies and became a popular high school counselor in Long Beach. Raised Roman Catholic, he discovered The Episcopal Church, becoming a prophetic missionary for bilingual ministry, a monk in the Order of the Holy Cross, and eventually a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, ordained by Bishop Fred Borsch.
Eduardo retired this autumn after 18 years as the seventh rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in South Gate. As he grapples with health challenges, he’s decided to move back to Santiago, where two of his four devoted siblings live. The theological and political conversations will continue to be lively, no doubt, in a family whose story has become even richer by virtue of Eduardo’s gift of mentorship of generations of students and communicants. Vaya con Dios, mi colega.