A Life Remembered: Rev. Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ

Rev. Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ
Rev. Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ

May 21, 1916 – James Bertram Reuter was born in the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was a product of the German and Irish bloodline, who resided in the United States.

1923 – At the age of seven, he already realized his goal to be a missionary and a priest someday. His father was at first resistant to Reuter’s dream citing that he was still too young to know what he’s talking about.

1927 – He graduated from St. Mary’s, he immediately pursued his choice for priesthood at the St. Peter’s Preparatory School, as an academic scholar, in the nearby Jersey City.

1934 – Reuter graduated from St. Peter’s Prep and entered the congregation of the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, where he majored in history.

1936 – He took his first holy vows in September and completed his “Juniorate” in the next two years.

1938 – Reuter arrived in Manila on July 4 and immediately went to the Jesuit College of Ateneo de Manila. From Manila, he was taken to the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, where young Filipino seminarians studied philosophy. During this time, among the hotly debated issue in the land was the American colonization of the island. Even if he is an American, Reuter argued in favor of Philippine independence.

1939 – Reuter was transferred to Baguio to continue his studies of philosophy at Sacred Heart College. He stayed at the Jesuit hilltop residence of Mirador and during his free time, he coached basketball at St. Louis High and Maryknoll Grade School.

1941 – In the middle of the year, Reuter returned to Manila where he was assigned to teach sophomores at Ateneo de Manila. He also helped produce the Catholic Church’s popular Sunday-night radio program, “The Commonweal Hour,” where he worked with some prominent Filipino including Horacio de la Costa, Leon Ma. Guerrero, Ricardo Puno, Jesus Paredes, Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, and Raul Manglapus.

1942 – During the outbreak of the World War II, Reuter suffered starvation in years and was imprisoned, but still managed to serve daily communion.

1945 – During the fall of Japanese forces in the country, Reuter went back to the United States to meet his family. He stayed in America for three years until his ordination.

1946 – On March 24, he was ordained along with twenty-six other Jesuits who had also been imprisoned in the Philippines. On June 23, he celebrated his first mass at St. Mary’s in Elizabeth.

1947 – He continued his trainings at the Jesuit Colleges in New York and received his licentiate (equivalent to a master’s degree) in Sacred Theology. He also spent twelve weeks at Fordham University to study a course in radio and television. He also founded the Family Rosary Crusade.

1948 – Reuter returned to the Philippines to take up his first assignment as a priest at Naga City in Bicol. At Ateneo de Naga, Reuter joined the teaching staff. He also formed the traveling theatrical company, the Cathedral Players, composed mostly of local priests and nuns performing all over the province.

1952 – He took his final vows as a Jesuit and was transferred back to the Ateneo de Manila. In Manila, Reuter wrote and produced a play to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Francis Xavier.

1960 – Reuter ended his eight-year sojourn at Ateneo de Manila to head the new communication office of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

1964 – He moved to the spacious new Jesuit residence called Xavier House in Santa Ana, where he set up his media studios. He has lived there ever since. As Jesuit secretary for communications in the Philippines, Reuter encouraged Jesuits to use radio, film, television, and the press in their apostolic work. He also taught them how to do it.

1965 – He served as general manager of Radio Veritas for two years. Despite his prolific activities in media, he still continued to perform priestly functions as well. He also became a chaplain of St. Paul’s College in Manila.

1967 – As national director of mass media of the Philippine hierarchy, his mandate was expanded to include the entire Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, thus, making him the Church’s all-around media expert. He also founded Endue Asia, the Asian branch of the International Catholic Association of Radio and Television, to link Catholic broadcasters throughout the region.

1972 – When Marcos declared martial law, Reuter’s media operation was temporarily stopped. As head of the Federation of Catholic Broadcasters, he helped get Catholic radio stations back on the air. Reuter also became the formal go-between for the federation’s seventeen stations and the military authorities.

Martial Law Era – When Reuter returned on air, he bravely broadcast the regime’s brutalities and was later arrested by six colonels and majors, including Col. Rolando Abadilla, whom Reuter had implicated in military murder. He was put on trial for subversion, inciting to rebellion, and dozens of other charges arising from the Communicator. His trial went on for twelve days and received a lot of attention in the Marcos-controlled press, where he was depicted as a criminal. But in the international community, Reuter was uplifted so he was given an amnesty by the president.

1981 – During the papal visit, Reuter was given a special award by Pope John Paul II, for his faithful and courageous contribution to upholding truth, justice and integrity in the Catholic Communications.

1985 – When anti-Marcos protests widened, following the death of Ninoy Aquino in 1983, moved to strengthen its internal links by providing shortwave radios to other stations so they could stay in touch with each other twenty-four hours a day and to also update the public.

1986 – During the February 7 Snap Election, Reuter and the Federation of Catholic Broadcasters sided with the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) to cover the historic counting of votes. During the EDSA Revolution, Reuter worked with his media, using the code name Papa Bear, to allow the public to be informed with the current national situation. His participation in the peaceful revolution, using the media, was highly commended.

1989 – Reuter received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts. He was also recognized for his participation in the stage, printing press and broadcast media.

2006 – He was given honorary Filipino citizenship by the Philippine Congress.

2009 – Due to failing health condition, he retired from his duties and responsibilities in the media in June, but still continued to write as a newspaper columnist.

2012 – Reuter succumbed to an ailment on December 31, at the age of 96.

Manila Bulletin – http://www.mb.com.ph/


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