Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

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.



Filipino Jesuit Declared Country’s National Scientist

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III conferred the National Scientist award and title on academician, Jesuit Father Bienvenido Nebres.

Fr. Nebres was recognized for his outstanding achievements and accomplishments as a mathematician, educator, mentor and administrator and for his contributions to education and social reform.

In his speech at the conferment rites in Malacañang, President Aquino cited some of the achievements of the 71-year-old Nebres; helping establish the Ateneo Center for Educational Development, which he noted focuses on improving education in public schools. ACED now works with local governments with over 400 public schools in Quezon City, Parañaque, Valenzuela, Nueva Ecija, La Union and other parts of the country.

The President noted that Nebres was now chairman of the Synergeia Foundation which works with public schools in over 200 municipalities, including some in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Nebres said he was supposed to receive the award early this year along with Raul Fabella, his co-awardee as National Scientist for this year, but he said he was in Europe when the Palace announced the award.

He is the 37th National Scientist of the country and one of the only 15 awardees alive today.