James Bertram Reuter (May 21, 1916 – December 31, 2012) was an American Jesuit Catholic priest who lived in the Philippines since he was 22 and taught at Ateneo de Manila University. He was a well-known public figure who was a writer, director and producer in theatre, radio, print and film. He was also a prominent figure in the resistance against the two-decade rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, and played a key role in the 1986 People Power Revolution that overthrew Marcos. He educated and trained students in creative works, inspired by the works of Christ, instilling the importance of prayers most especially the Holy Rosary, working alongside and continuing the mission of the Rev. Patrick Peyton, best known as the "Rosary Priest".
Father Reuter received awards and recognition for promoting the Catholic Church through mass media, including the award for "Outstanding Service to the Catholic Church in the field of Mass Media", personally given to him in January 1981 by Pope John Paul II. For his work in the field of communication, and training prominent leaders and artists in Philippine society, he was made an "honorary citizen of the Republic of the Philippines" in 1984 by the Batasang Pambansa by a unanimous vote.
Reuter retired to the Xavier House in Santa Ana, Manila, before he was transferred to the Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City, where he remained until his death on New Year's Eve 2012.
Reuter first came to the Commonwealth of the Philippines as a 22-year-old seminarian from the Jesuit formation house of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, remaining in the country for almost his entire life. During the Japanese Occupation, members of the Society of Jesus were placed in an internment camp in Los Baños, Laguna. He was the last surviving member of the camp. He returned to the United States following his liberation and was ordained into the priesthood at Woodstock, Maryland. After completing studies in radio and television communications at Fordham University, Father Reuter returned to The Philippines in 1948 for his life's long work serving God and The Philippine people in television, radio, theatre and mass media communications.
It was in 1947 when Reuter first heard of the rapidly growing mission of Patrick Peyton, of the Congregation of Holy Cross and promoted praying of the Family Rosary. Both Reuter and Peyton believed that the most effective means of propagating the word of Christ, the messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary was through the use of emerging mass communication with the likes of radio, film and television. Reuter submitted an unsolicited short drama for radio to Peyton in 1947 and it was used in the weekly broadcasts of the Family Theater radio shows that aired on the defunct American radio network Mutual Broadcasting System or MBS. The drama titled, "Stolen Symphony" was awarded as best drama by the Ohio State Awards.
He returned to the Philippines in 1948, and on his own established Family Theater Productions, duplicating the efforts of Peyton in the United States, he solicited free radio air time on radio station KZPI and got named Filipino actors and actresses to volunteer their voices and acting talent to dramatize family oriented soaps and the praying of the Rosary.
Fr Reuter brought Family Theater to television in 1953, operating until the declaration of Martial Law on 23 September 1972, when media was forcibly shut and seized by the government of Ferdinand Marcos. With the restoration of democracy in 1986 and the establishment of the Fifth Philippine Republic, Reuter returned to television with a magazine-talk show programme, Family Rosary Crusade, that aired on ABS-CBN. Reuter served as the spiritual guide to the programme's weekly episodes, and until his death hosted another daily 5-minute reflection programme on the ABC5 called "Three Minutes a Day".
In 1968, Reuter and two fellow Jesuits founded the Philippine chapter of the Jesuits Engaged in Social Communications or JESCOM. Initially, the group served as the communications arm of the Society's Philippine province. JESCOM took part in rural evangelization with the production of radio soap serials and comics with story lines that appeal to rural communities.
He served as the spiritual adviser to American Marine Lt/Cpl Daniel Smith, an accused in the highly controversial Subic rape case.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines officially announced Reuter's death at 12:51 PST (UTC+08:00) at the church-run Our Lady of Peace Hospital along Coastal Road in Parañaque City. He had earlier suffered a mild stroke after staying in the hospital for the last three years.
Reuter's casket lay in repose at St. Paul University Manila on January 3, 2013, and was transferred to Church of the Gesù inside the Ateneo de Manila University's Katipunan campus. As per custom, his casket was laid feet facing the congregation to reflect his life's status as a priest ministering to the faithful. A vigil Mass was said by Noel Vasquez, with Asandas Balchand preaching the sermon; the next day, Catalino Arevalo and Joaquin Bernas also said Mass, with a combined choir from the Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club, Bukas Palad Music Ministry, and Ateneo College Ministry Group.
The Requiem Mass for Reuter was held at 08:30 PST on January 5, 2013, said by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Jose Cecilio Magadia, with Bienvenido Nebres as homilist, with the Reuter's Glee Club as the choir. The interment followed at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City at 11:00, where Reuter was buried along with other Jesuit priests and seminarians.
Reuter founded the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc. and directed live on stage presentation of Family Theater in the Philippines, the Family Rosary Crusade (TV program).