Fr. James B. Reuter S.J. on the friendship of Fr. Martin Zillig, S.J. and Fr. Henry Lee Irwin, S.J.: The Jackass anecdote

Fr. James B. Reuter SJ, who aside from moderating the Ateneo Glee Club and serving as trainer for the men’s basketball team of yore, once told a story about Father Irwin and another Jesuit Fr. Martin Zillig, who both had many a spirited debate about many a thing.

“At the end of the day, the priests would gather at the recreational room at the Jesuit Residence for small talk about the day’s events. Both Fathers Zillig and Irwin were highly opinionated and they would continue their discussions at the balcony only for the former to storm off in anger muttering, ‘Jackass! Jackass!’

“When Father Zillig fell sick and lay dying, he asked for Father Irwin to stay by his bedside.

“As Father Irwin packed a few belongings to take with him to the hospital, his eyes burned with tears and he began to mumble, ‘I know, I know. He wants me there so he can look me in the eye one more time and say, ‘Jackass! Jackass!’”

The anecdote, humorous it may be, underscores the close-knit fraternity of the Jesuits and Father Harry’s compassion. Towards the 1970’s, Father Irwin fell ill and retired from teaching. Instead he tended to his garden outside the Jesuit Residence and walked around the campus befriending and giving impromptu lectures to students about school, life, theater, and just about anything. He pushed students to explore life and live it to the fullest.


Source: “The Blue Ghost” by Rick Olivares


About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

One Response to Fr. James B. Reuter S.J. on the friendship of Fr. Martin Zillig, S.J. and Fr. Henry Lee Irwin, S.J.: The Jackass anecdote

  1. catalino arevalo says:

    One day (maybe sometime in 1947 or 1948), as the Jesuits were discussing moving the Ateneo campus to its present Katipunan site, Fr IRWIN gave his favorable vote, citing many good features of the new site: fresh air aplenty, trees all over, much space for walking around, reflecting, enjoying nature; far from city noise and dirt, and so forth. Fr ZILLIG got up and said, “For the very same reasons, exactly, I violently oppose moving to that distant place. Who will go to school there, if the Ateneo moves into that jungle? The sons of Tarzan of the apes?” Wow, prophetic! How many sons (and now d daughters) of Tarzan and Jane have studied at the Ateneo at its Loyola Heights site? Lahat kayo, anak ni Tarzan!

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