MANILA, Dec. 31, 2012— Jesuit Fr. James Reuter, who linked the Catholic Church for several decades with the media, has died today at the age of 96.
Reuter reportedly had a mild stroke four days ago and passed away on Monday at 12:51 p.m. at the Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City where he had been staying in the last three years.
Sister Eva Maamo, president of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc., an organization founded by Reuter, said that the priest’s remains will be brought to the Arlington Memorial Chapel in Quezon City.
Reuter served as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media (ECSCMM) for 39 years.
During his tenure until he retired in 2009, Reuter received awards and recognition for his work in the promotion of the Catholic Church utilizing mass media.
In 2008, the CBCP has conferred on Reuter the “Jorge Barlin Golden Cross Award.”
He was the second recipient to receive one of the highest Church awards for his pastoral work using the mass media.
Reuter came to the country in 1938 as a missionary— a 22-year old Jesuit scholastic. As a Jesuit in formation, he took up his philosophical studies in Novaliches and Baguio.
He then taught at the Ateneo de Manila on Padre Faura just before World War II. When the war broke out, the Japanese army interned him.
But while jailed at the Ateneo on Padre Faura, and later in the prison camp in Los Baños, with other Jesuits he wrote songs and produced plays during the course of war.
After the war, the priest went to the US to finish his theological studies at Georgetown University and was ordained a Jesuit priest at Woodstock, Maryland in 1946. He also spent another year at Fordham University in New York to study radio and television.
It was in 1948 when he went back to the Philippines as a teacher in high school and college at the Ateneo de Naga. He was basketball coach, drama and glee club director, retreat master, confidant, and friend to his students and to those who knew him.
In 2006, he was granted honorary Filipino citizenship by the Philippine Congress in recognition of his lifetime service to the people.
Reuter also served as the director of the National Office on Mass Media (NOMM).
He was instrumental in organizing UNDA/ASIA (the international Catholic association for radio and TV in Asia). He is also one of the founders of the Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters, a union of 41 Catholic radio stations stretching from Laoag to Tawi-Tawi.
For almost seven decades of priestly ministry, he already received over 20 prestigious awards citing his invaluable services to the Church and to the country in various fields especially in education, mass media, literature and performing arts.
In 1981, during the papal visit to the Philippines, Pope John Paul II gave him a special award for his “outstanding service to the Catholic Church in the field of mass media.”
In 1989, he was the Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.
Reuter, like the crowning glory of his life, was also honored with the rare and highly coveted Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award, a papal award given to individuals in recognition of his/her outstanding and exemplary service to the Catholic Church and the Holy See. (CBCPNews)