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Father Rutherford ...

by Father Hanquet ----
July, 2005

"Father Rutherford, a Franciscan as was Father Schneider, chose to stay in camp to help the Catholic prisoners.

The same decision to stay was also taken by 6 other Samist Fathers (Société des Auxiliaires des Missions). They were Fathers deJaegher, Keymolen, Palmers, Unden, Wenders, and myself, E. Hanquet. At 90 years old, I am the only one alive today. In camp, with us, there was also a Benedictine Father, John Martin, and two Jesuit Fathers: Fathers Dallaire and Gyselinck.

There were also 3 Catholic nuns and about forty laypersons.

For this little Catholic community, it was important to have someone in charge. This was requested by our Japanese captors as well as by the Catholic Church in Peking, represented by the apostolical delegate: H.E. Mgr. Zanin.

Father Schnusenberg, a German Franciscan Father living in Peking had arranged with the Japanese for the transfer to Peking of all the Catholic missionaries, Fathers and Nuns (except ourselves) to be re-interned by oath in their respective convents. Doing so, he named Father Rutherford as the principal priest responsible for Weihsien prison camp.

Father Schnusenberg came to visit the camp with the Swiss delegation about every month with a new provision of wine and hosts all packed in a box, which he insisted to be returned to him --- empty --- on every next visit. This enabled us to smuggle messages ? unnoticed by the Japanese.

A few words about Father Rutherford’s personality:

He loved to laugh, and laughed heartily and loudly. This happened when he told us about the time he had to undergo surgery: a trepanning ---

He said: "They opened my head and they didn’t find anything in it" HA! HA! HA!

As a priest, he presided our Sunday Eucharist at 8 o’clock in the Assembly Hall. During the first months, he was the only one to give the sermon. Later on, he asked other Fathers to replace him."


Emmanuel Hanquet