Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father John Ruane’

Jesuit WWII Internee Remembered

Jesuit Father John Ruane, who was interned in the Los Banos civilian internment camp on the island of Luzon in the Philippines during World War II, recently passed away at the age of 92. He was Professor Emeritus at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City for 38 years.

Fr. Ruane, who entered the Society of Jesus upon graduating from St. Peter’s Preparatory in 1937, said that going to the missions appealed to him, and he was sent to the Philippines to study philosophy at Ateneo de Manila in July 1941. By 1942, all the priests and seminarians were placed under house arrest by the Japanese military, and in 1945, the Jesuits were moved to the Los Banos camp. They could take few belongings, and the 80 Jesuits were assigned to live in huts with 16 internees in each.

Given rice mixed with a little meat and water twice a day, Fr. Ruane said, “We were weak.” He said that they didn’t move around too much to preserve their strength and people would blackout often. “One pig would last for 1,000 servings.”

The priests would take turns saying Mass with the wine they had smuggled into the camp, and some of the Jesuits professors who would lecture the internees.

Fr. Ruane said they never gave up on the Americans and knew they were close since their airplane engines were stronger than the Japanese. Eventually, Fr. Ruane and the other internees were rescued by the U.S. troops.

Jesuit Father John Ruane

Jesuit priests and seminarians, above, in a photo taken at Loyola College in Los Angeles after they were freed by American soldiers in 1945. Father John Ruane is in the top row, second from right.

After World War II, Fr. Ruane returned to the United States to be ordained; earned a doctorate in philosophy at Louvain, Belgium; and then returned to Cebu in the Philippines to teach Jesuit seminarians until 1969.

With the passing of Fr. Ruane, Jesuit Father James Reuter, now 95, is the only other Jesuit survivor. Fr. Reuter still lives in the Philippines.

 

 

Jesuit Shares Tale of Survival as WWII POW

Jesuit Father John Ruane

Jesuit priests and seminarians, above, in a photo taken at Loyola College in Los Angeles after they were freed by American soldiers in 1945. Jesuit Father John Ruane is in the top row, second from right.

Jesuit Father John Ruane, 91, who was interned in the Los Banos civilian internment camp on the island of Luzon in the Philippines during World War II, said of his survival, “God was protecting us.”

Fr. Ruane said that going to the missions appealed to him, and he was sent to the Philippines to study philosophy at Ateneo de Manila in July 1941. By 1942, all the priests and seminarians were placed under house arrest by the Japanese military, and in 1945, the Jesuits were moved to the Los Banos camp. They could take few belongings, and the 80 Jesuits were assigned to live in huts with 16 internees in each.

Given rice mixed with a little meat and water twice a day, Ruane said, “We were weak.” He said that they didn’t move around too much to preserve their strength and people would blackout often.

The priests would take turns saying Mass with the wine they had smuggled into the camp, and some of the Jesuits professors who would lecture the internees.

Ruane said they never gave up on the Americans and knew they were close since their airplane engines were stronger than the Japanese.

Ruane and the other internees were rescued by the U.S. troops, and he returned to the United States to be ordained; earned a doctorate in philosophy at Louvain, Belgium; and then returned to Cebu in the Philippines to teach Jesuit seminarians until 1969.

Read more about Ruane at NJ.com and NJN.

A Jesuit Formation in the Crucible of War

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The road of Jesuit formation can be challenging, but it doesn’t get any more difficult than the one taken by Jesuit Father John Ruane nearly seven decades ago.

He celebrates his 90th birthday this month, and in many ways he doesn’t look much different than he did in an April 1945 group photo with 49 other Jesuits liberated two months earlier from a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. Father Ruane still has a full head of hair and the same lanky visage he did when as a young man he posed in U.S. military uniform (the clothes were a gift as the Jesuits had left their confinement with only their prison garb). He still goes out for his daily walk, even in the worst weather conditions.

“He is probably the most well-liked member of our Jesuit community,” said Father Tom Sheridan, S.J., who notes that Father Ruane’s affable personality once caused a fellow Jesuit to quip, “Knowing John Ruane would cause one to have doubts about the universality of original sin.”

But don’t mix a genial disposition with evidence of an easy life. Father Ruane is a survivor. At the start of the war, there were 125 American Jesuits in the Philippines. Father Ruane was among 87 put under immediate house arrest by the Japanese and, as the war came to its close, eventually interned at Los Baños (A smaller number were interned on Mindanao, and others, who were parish priests, operated freely throughout the war, protected by their Filipino parishioners). Among this group, Father Ruane is one of three still living (the other two are Fathers James Reuter in the Philippines and Father Clarence Martin, who resides near Philadelphia).

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