Pedro Arrupe: Witness of the Twentieth Century, Prophet of the Twentieth

Source: jesuitsie

Pedro Arrupe:  Witness of the Twentieth Century, Prophet of the Twenty-first by Pedro Miguel Lamet, SJ, 2020, Boston: Institute of Jesuit Sources.

During the summer of 1973 I had the task of escorting Father General Pedro Arrupe to breakfast in the dining room of Regis College, Bayview. Father Arrupe was visiting Canada to attend the first Jesuit Congress of the Upper Canada Province of the Society of Jesus.

Although my time with Father Arrupe each morning of the congress was a very short one – the elevator ride down one floor to the dining room – I still remember his friendly and fatherly presence from those brief moments.

Of course, this memory is amplified by his dynamic presence during the Congress – presiding at Mass in the Regis chapel, addressing us in the gym, where he also delighted us with his stories and songs, and at dinners and gatherings.  I think that he was the highlight of the congress for all the more than 350 of us Jesuits attending.

Reading Fr. Lamet’s biography of Fr. Arrupe reminded me of those very special days.  The biography is very thorough and very inspirational in its relation of Fr. Arrupe’s life from childhood that began in 1907, through his service as a Jesuit, to his long illness and confinement after a major stroke in 1982, to his death in 1991.

Lamet traces his growth as a person, Jesuit, missioner, leader, and “prophet” over these 84 years.  To this account he brings not only the witness of family, fellow Jesuits, friends and those Fr. Arrupe worked for and with, but of his own relationship and friendship with Fr. Arrupe over many of those years, and especially in his last years.

His life was filled with adventures:  expulsion and exile as a Jesuit scholastic from his Spanish homeland, missionary evangelization and imprisonment in Japan as a young priest, spiritual and medical ministry for survivors of Hiroshima, and constant guidance and nurturance of Jesuits as novice director, superior, provincial and general.  In all these tasks he was a man of God shaping the world of the future.

An ongoing dynamism of ever growing, intimate love of Jesus focused Fr. Arrupe’s life.  Just as the depth and extent of this love is vividly portrayed in the biography so also it is depicted in the recent painting of the Descent from the Cross over the chapel altar in the Church of the Gesu where Fr. Arrupe is buried.   He is gently but intently helping the disciples lower Jesus down from the cross with the expression of the love of his whole Jesuit life.

The prayer for Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s beatification reminds us of this foundational love as we ask “with trust, in imitation of Jesus Christ, poor and humble, whom he loved deeply, that Father Arrupe be recognized as a model of evangelical life and prophetic witness in the world, encouraging us to become in every culture, men and women for others.”  To this prayer we can add with Father Lamet our hearty “Amen”.


Pedro Arrupe:  Witness of the Twentieth Century, Prophet of the Twenty-first by Pedro Miguel Lamet, SJ, 2020, Boston: Institute of Jesuit Sources.

Joseph Schner, SJ, is a professor of Psychology and Religion at the Toronto School of Theology.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:24h, 09 September Reply

    Thank you very much Joe!

  • Peter LeBlanc
    Posted at 18:00h, 09 September Reply

    Joe, may I add a personal recollection to your reminiscence of Fr. Arrupe’s dynamic presence at the Provincial Congress in 1973? Like you I was blessed to be part of that amazing gathering and even more blessed to pronounce my final vows before Fr. Arrupe during that week. What I still treasure from that time is the warmth he exuded even when addressing the throng packed into the decidedly sterile surrounding of the gym. I will never forget his English version of the traditional form of address to a group of Jesuits: “carissimi mei”. You could feel the affection in his voice as he looked out over the gathering of his brothers and began: “my dears”. Last week I celebrated my own 84th birthday. What beautiful synchronicity to learn from you of the publication of such a timely biography. Thank you. Peter.

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