She sang “Mary’s Child Forever” to him as he lay dying.
And Fr. James Reuter, S.J., who had a very deep devotion to Mary, listened as she sang the Marian song during his last moments at the Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City on Monday, said Sr. Sarah Manapol, S.P.C.
“I was singing to him when he was dying. Mary’s child forever … forever Mary’s child … He was listening so beautifully,” Manapol said in an interview
The day before, the 96-year-old legendary Jesuit joined in singing with the sisters attending to him at the hospital.
“Do you know that he joined when we thought that he was already unconscious. We became teary-eyed because we never expected that he would be responding,” Manapol said.
“Father James Reuter harnessed the tools of media and communications in promoting the Catholic faith and in the defense of freedom and democracy, especially during the days of martial law and the glorious 1986 Edsa Revolution,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“In life, Father Reuter was a man of faith and a defender of the rights that we hold sacred. In death, he will be remembered as a great Filipino,” he said.
Reuter, 96, passed away on Monday from lung and heart failure at the Parañaque hospital where he had been under the constant watch of private nurses for the past three years.
Manapol said she took the opportunity to thank Reuter not only for “loving the Filipinos” but also for giving her spiritual guidance through all these years. Reuter was her spiritual director.
“I thanked him for loving the Philippines in his big heart and especially for guiding me from the very beginning of my religious life,” Manapol said.
“I was telling him when he was going, ‘thank you for leading me to God and keeping me where I am.’ He always loved everybody,” she added.
Wake and interment
Reuter’s remains were brought to St. Paul’s University in Manila, where he had served as a chaplain.
“He is very close to the Sisters of St. Paul. He served here as a chaplain for many years. He has been the spiritual director of many Paulinians. He encouraged many girls to enter our congregation,” Manapol said.
Reuter’s remains will be transferred today to the Church of the Gesu at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, where public viewing will be open until Friday.
He will be laid to rest on Saturday at the Jesuit cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City, after the 8:30 a.m. funeral Mass at the Gesu.
A big brother
Former Ateneo de Manila University president and prominent Jesuit priest Fr. Bienvenido Nebres said many of his fellow priests considered Reuter, who taught for many years at the Ateneo, as their big brother.
“For myself and Jesuits of my generation, Father Jim was an older brother we looked up to and admired for his deep faith, his love for the Church and the Philippines, for the Society of Jesus and the Ateneo,” Nebres said.
He said Reuter often shared this in his talks and writing.
“I am deeply grateful for the gift of having lived and worked with him as an older brother and friend,” said Nebres.
“Running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes took time off from his silence break to honor Reuter, whom he considers his mentor. He offered a prayer run for Reuter on Tuesday.
“Father James insisted that knowing how to use and relate with media is one thing. However, his life was both medium and message as he spoke both in word, action and silence about Jesus, the word made flesh,” said Reyes.
He sent the statement from the Juan de Plasencia Franciscan Novitiate in Liliw, Laguna, where he has been residing since deciding to take a break from public life last year.
Reyes, an activist priest, credited Reuter for helping him understand the culture of the press in the Philippines.
“It will be different now without the voice, the pen, the face of the priest in the white Jesuit cassock. Not really, for this communicator did not die in vain. He has taught hundreds to speak well and effectively about Jesus through the means of social communication. But more than skill and art he passed on a spirituality,” he said.