The Jesuit priest heard the warning sirens as a single bomber flew over the city, followed by an enormous explosion that shook the earth under him. He felt the concussion that blew in the doors, windows, and walls of his house. Staggering outside, he saw the city erupting in a ball of fire. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., originally from the Basque region of Spain, was living and doing missionary work on the outskirts of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, when in a blinding flash of death, destruction, and horror, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city by a United States B-29 bomber. The bomb initially killed 100,000 people and reduced the city to smoldering rubble. Almost 100,000 more later died from burns and radiation. A medical doctor by training, Fr. Arrupe helped as many of the victims of the atomic bomb as he could in the aftermath of the August 6 horror, saving approximately 150 lives. Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, with equally destructive results, and the loss of an additional 75,000 lives outright. Burns and radiation later caused 75,000 more deaths among the people of Nagasaki. On August 16, the Japanese surrendered, and World War II was over.
Fr. Arrupe was working as a missionary in Japan when World War II broke out. At the outset of the war he was arrested and briefly imprisoned. After his release, he moved to Hiroshima to continue his missionary work. Once the war ended, Fr. Arrupe served as Superior of the Jesuits’ Japanese Province, and in 1965, he was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus. In 1966, he became the first Jesuit Superior General to visit the United States. In April of that year, Fr. Arrupe came to San Francisco and the University of San Francisco. He was hosted at a USF alumni banquet at the Hilton Hotel, where he was welcomed by Edmund G. Brown, governor of California, and John Shelley, mayor of San Francisco and a 1932 graduate of the USF School of Law. At the banquet, Brown, Shelley, and the other dinner guests heard Fr. Arrupe say, “Your Jesuit system of education has always defended the rights of intelligence and of reason…. You must make a part of your life a deep and abiding love of the world.” Today a statue of Fr. Arrupe stands on the USF campus, in front of the University Ministry and about 100 yards from the new John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation.
Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, visited San Francisco in April 1966, where he was honored at a USF alumni banquet hosted by Edmund G. Brown, governor of California, and John Shelley, mayor of San Francisco and a graduate of the USF School of Law. USF JESUIT COMMUNITY ARCHIVES
By September 1945, thousands of men were processed out of the armed services in San Francisco and throughout the United States. In many cases, they returned to cities and Continue reading