Thursday, December 06, 2007


The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)  today celebrates the Birth centenary of Fr. Pedro  Arrupe who was born in Bilbao Spain on November 14th, 1907. 
Fr. Arrupe was in the midst of his medical studies (where he was faring brilliantly) to join the Jesuits in order to commit himself in service to God and to people.  He spent forty years of his life in Japan where he mastered the Japanese language and culture. 
The defining moment of his stay in Japan was on August 6, 1945 when the world's first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Fr. Arrupe was in the midst of this tragedy.  He made his Jesuit residence into a make shift hospital administering to those who were badly wounded.  For days on he selflessly catered to the dying and the wounded using his medical skills to the maximum.  For several years later Pedro Arrupe would recall the horror and tragedy of the atomic explosions, encouraging people, across the globe, to do everything possible to halt nuclear warfare. 
In 1965, he was elected Superior General of the Jesuits and during his tenure he emphasized the importance of Jesuits being deeply rooted in God  and at the same time, taking the side of justice in whatever they did.  In 1980, he founded the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) which has been selflessly serving, thousands of refugees in different parts of the world  for more than twenty-five years now.  He also insisted that Jesuit education should form men and women in the service of others. 
In 1981, he suffered a stroke from which he did not recover.  He died on 5th February 1991, at the age of 84 years, leaving behind a very rich legacy of being deeply rooted in God and at the same time fighting for the rights of the poor, the marginalized and the displaced.
The Jesuits in Gujarat (and in several parts of India) today run well-known institutions like those of the Xavier's family which are committed to the cause of education and to the service of the poor and the marginalized.  In celebrating the memory of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, they continue the rich legacy he has left them. 

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
14th November 2007


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