A long time ago, a seven-year-old girl came across a script belonging to her elder sister. It was entitled “The Night before Christmas,” written and directed by Fr. James Reuter, SJ. The little girl was attracted by the word “Christmas” as all children are, and so she curiously opened the script and read—and read on until the very end. The story had such an effect on her that she decided right there and then that when she grew up, and if ever she got married, she would never, never reject any baby God would give her.
That was the very first time I encountered Fr. Reuter. At that time, I had no idea that I would be so privileged as to become his friend, but he had made an impact on me years before I even met him. And he would have the same influence on me throughout the long years.
I suppose my sons, Peimon and Ibrahim, and to some extent, my daughters Roya and Regina are Reuter babies, because they were involved in a number of Fr. Reuter’s plays as cast members from childhood, but I didn’t get to know him by being a Reuter baby.
I came to him because of a marital problem. I was then just turning 30 and feeling very miserable, and my sister Christy suggested I ask Fr. Reuter’s advice. I wasn’t sure how I could get an appointment with Fr. Reuter, or that he would even agree to see me . . . to me he was a star, a celebrity, and he seemed so busy. So I decided to write him a letter, explaining to him, in a nutshell, what my problem was, and if he could give me some advice. I also told him that I understood he was busy, and that if he couldn’t see me, I would be happy if he would just pray for me. I mailed the letter in early May.
The days passed and now it was June, and I had forgotten all about it. But then one day I received a call from Fr. Reuter. He said he had just finished reading my letter and then asked if I could come see him the next day. And that was how Father became a part of my life and changed it forever.
He advised me to stick with my husband, telling me that mercy was better than justice, and that I should be generous enough to forgive and also humble enough to ask to be forgiven. He converted my husband from Islam to Catholicism, something I never even dared to dream of doing. But Father did it very simply: he gave my husband a rosary, and told him, you don’t have to pray it, just keep it in your pocket, and she (Our Lady) will do the rest.
And true enough, Our Lady did, just as Father had so confidently promised! My husband began attending Fr. Reuter’s early (6 o’clock) morning masses. The hour was too early for me, and often times he went alone, but soon my husband asked Father to baptize him, and he very kindly did. I was then pregnant with Roya, our third child, and our very first baby girl. Fr. Reuter baptized her too, as well as Regina and Pio, the last two of our five children.
He was there for us in our struggles as a family, every step of the way, and for us he isn’t gone. Just in a happier place where we will hopefully join him someday!