Latest Stories

Reuter, 1986 Edsa ‘Bandido,’ legendary Jesuit, dies at 96



He is home.

Fr. James Reuter, SJ, the revered and and well-loved American priest and honorary Filipino, passed away Monday from lung and heart failure, the Ateneo de Manila University community has announced.

He was 96.

Reuter, academic, communicator, singer, athlete, artist and political activist, died at 12:51 p.m. Monday at the Our of Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City, his home for the past three years, said Sister Eva Maamo, a nun who was closely involved in the priest’s mission work in the Philippines.

“He had been unconscious in the last four days. We gave him IV (intravenous fluid), oxygen, we gave him everything that can help but his heart and lungs gave,” she said in an interview.

Maamo is the president of the Foundation of the Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc. (Folpmi), an organization that supports urban poor and indigenous communities around the Philippines whose board Reuter chaired.

The nun said Reuter had been under the care of private nurses at the hospital. Already wheelchair-bound, he had moved from the Jesuit residence in Manila to the Parañaque hospital in 2009 because of his frail health.

“He was still able to speak until four days ago when he fell unconscious. Nurses were on duty every day to take care of him,” Maamo said.

Former Ateneo de Manila University president Jesuit Fr. Bienvenido Nebres said the wake for Reuter will be held at the Church of the Gesu at the Ateneo de Manila University’s main campus in Quezon City starting this morning.

Interment plans are expected to be finalized after the holidays but Nebres said Reuter will definitely be interred in the Jesuit cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, Nebres said.

Reuter’s relatives in the US have also been informed about the priest’s passing.

“The University mourns the passing of Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ, who joined our Creator at 12:51 p.m. Tuesday, at the age of 96,” the Ateneo de Manila University said on its Twitter account.

Decision at 7

Reuter was born in New Jersey on May 21, 1916, When he was just 7 years old, he made a decision that would set the course of his life.

“I was in second grade and heard the nuns talking about the missions. This struck me as attractive so I said I would be a missionary,” he said.

At 18, he entered the Society of Jesus, and just four years later, he was sent as a Jesuit scholastic to study philosophy in the Philippines.

Reuter arrived in the Philippines in 1938 and immediately fell in love with the Philippines and the Filipinos, a nation he credits for teaching him the true meaning of faith.

“When I first came here, I thought I was bringing God to the Philippines. But what I discovered was [the Filipinos] brought God to me,” an already frail Reuter said between sobs during an intimate gathering of friends and former students at the Our Lady of Peace Hospital to celebrate his 94th birthday in 2010.

Prominent communicator

Reuter played many roles, that of priest, teacher, counselor, friend, sports coach, dramatist, author, singing coach—and  enjoyed them all.

Chiefly known as a prominent communicator of the Church, he used the different media—radio, television and print—to spread the Gospel for almost 50 years.

He taught at the Ateneo de Manila University and pioneered Jesuit broadcast communication in the country through the Family Rosary Crusade.

As head of the Church’s National Office of Mass Media, he may well have been one of the few clergymen in the country who really understand media culture. He coordinated the conduct of all Catholic radio stations including TV programs.

His mark on PH history

Reuter’s most lasting contribution to Philippine history was the setting up of  “Radyo Bandido,” the underground radio station that bolstered people’s spirits and kept the country and the world informed about the 1986 People Power Revolution.

During the first Edsa People Power Revolution, when the transition facilities of the Church-owned Radio Veritas were destroyed by Marcos troops, Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, called Reuter about finding a replacement.

DZRJ radio, then controlled by the anti-Marcos opposition forces, moved its frequency from 810 to 840, and thus was born “Radyo Bandido,” with June Keithley-Castro becoming the eyes and ears of the nation during the four-day uprising.

Awards and citations

In 1989, Reuter received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in 1989 for “employing his gifts as writer, theatrical director and broadcaster, and most of all as teacher, to make the performing arts and mass media a vital force for good in the Philippines.”

In 2009, the Catholic Church gave Reuter the Serviam Award for his hard work and passion as a priest and as head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ media commission. He was cited for what he accomplished for the Church, communities, schools and young people in the Philippines and across Asia using broadcasting, theater and his writings.

In 1996, Congress unanimously voted to make Reuter an honorary Filipino. In 2005, the Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 17, which hailed the Amercian Jesuit for his “extraordinary and unparalleled life of service to the Filipino people.”

In 2011, President Aquino awarded Reuter the Philippine Legion of Honor with the rank of Chief Commander, the highest honor that the President of the Philippines may grant an individual without the concurrence of Congress. With Inquirer Research

First posted 2:16 pm | Monday, December 31st, 2012

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Ateneo de Manila University , Catholic Church , death , death of public figures , Fr. James Reuter , James Reuters , Jesuit priests , obituary , priest , tribute

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Drilon denies involvement in pork scam
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Sports

  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace