Posts Tagged ‘World War 2’

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.



Letters from Shanghai: Keeping the Flame of Faith and Joy Alive

A little more than half a century ago, Jesuit Father Charles J. McCarthy sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on his return to San Francisco as one of the last two Jesuits released from prison in Communist China, a confinement he endured for four years following an earlier house arrest by the Japanese during WWII.

Waiting for him were his brothers, Walter, Alex, Robert and their families, including Walter’s 10-year-old daughter, Mary Jo, who would later chronicle the dramatic story that linked her father and uncle, a story documented in hundreds of letters written by the two men over more than 50 years.

The letters illustrate the history of China, from the Japanese occupation in World War II to the Communist takeover; they also reveal the devotion of brothers, a connection that endured despite distance and deprivation.

Aug. 2, 1952 – From Charles to Walter: Today is my 23rd anniversary as a Jesuit. It doesn’t seem that long since the family was all together. We certainly had some good times and lots of fun around the table. Dad was especially encouraging when I raised the vocation question with him, and he talked Mom out of the idea I was too young. The trip to Los Gatos was a step light-hearted enough for me, but I’m sure Mom and Dad felt deeply the first splintering of the family. Fortunately, though, there’s never been any real separation of our hearts.

In 1941, Charles sailed for Peking, where he studied Chinese for two years before the Japanese placed him and 29 colleagues under house arrest in Shanghai until the end of World War II. “He was able to send me letters via the Red Cross,” said Walter.

Upon his release, Charles taught theology in Shanghai until July 1946, when he returned to the U.S. to study journalism at Marquette University. He moved back to Shanghai in 1949, where he was appointed the superior of the Jesuit School of Theology in Shanghai, making him the highest-ranking American Jesuit in the Shanghai Jesuit Mission. He worked with Jesuit scholastics until his arrest by the Communists in 1953, when he was led away from his room at gunpoint, accused of “ideological sabotage” for giving harmful guidance to his students.

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Beatification Cause Opened for Young Jesuit Killed by Nazis

The beatification cause for Jesuit novice Tomas Munk and his father, Frantisek Munk, was opened on Sept. 27 in the Slovakian city of Bratislava.

The city’s Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky presided at the ceremony accompanied by various bishops.

A tribunal will now examine evidence of Tomas and Frantisek’s martyrdom. Father Ondrej Gabris, the vice postulator of the cause, has submitted a list of 14 testimonies.

Born in Budapest on January 29, 1924, In the mid-1930s, Tomas began having an interest in the Catholic faith.  He was baptized in 1939 in the city of Ruzomberok, Slovakia.

In 1943, Tomas entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, studying in Bratislava and Ruzomberok.  In the autumn of 1944, Nazi soldiers came in Ruzomberok. After several months the whole family was arrested and the Nazi eventually came to the Novitiate and took him away as a Jewish convert. According to a fellow novice, now a respected Jesuit, Tomas confided to him having prayed all night in the Novitiate chapel: “I have sacrificed my life for my nation, for its conversion and for the Church.”

Frantisek and his wife Gizela, together with their sons Tomas and Juraj, were sent to a concentration camp. They were later separated and sent on three different trains to Germany.  Tomas and his father were shot during a “death march” near Sachsenhausen on April 22, 1945.

The Catholic television station “Tv Lux” aired a special documentary on Tomas and his father to mark the opening of their cause for beatification.