Macau Caritas founder dies

Spanish Jesuit, whose Cantonese name was “Luk Ngai,” also founded Casa Ricci
Macau Caritas founder dies
Jesuit Father Luis Ruiz Suarez (front left, in a wheelchair) (Photo: Casa Ricci Social Service) reporter, Macau
July 27, 2011

Father Luis Ruiz Suarez, who dedicated his entire life to needy people in Macau and mainland China, died yesterday at the age of 97. The Spanish Jesuit, whose Cantonese name was “Luk Ngai,” was the founder of Caritas Macau.

Paul Pun Chi-meng, secretary general of Caritas Macau, remembered Father Ruiz’s selfless service, saying that “He was a pragmatic man. He never spread the Gospel with words, but I saw Jesus whenever I saw him.”

The obituary prepared by Caritas honored his lifelong contribution while urging people from all walks of life to emulate his spirit to serve the needy in the community.

Born in 1913, Father Ruiz joined the Jesuits in 1930. His missionary work in China began in 1941. It was interrupted by the Second Sino-Japanese War, and resumed after the war ended in 1945. When the Communists took control of China in 1949, he was imprisoned briefly and expelled from the country.

He was told by his Jesuit provincial to stay in Macau, at the time a Portuguese colony, to recover from typhoid, which he contracted in prison, but within a month he was already working with refugees.

Later he founded the Casa Ricci Social Service in Macau. It was later turned into Caritas Macau, which he began to operate in the 1970s and established five centers for the aged and for young men and women with mental disabilities.

He also enlisted the Sisters of Charity of St. Anne to help caring for the people with leprosy.

He began his service for people with leprosy in neighboring Guangdong province in 1984. Ten years later, this service had grown so much that he handed the Caritas operation back to Macau diocese.

He had helped more than 8,000 patients and their children in about 140 leprosaria in various Chinese provinces.

In 2005, Father Luis, in his 90s, accepted invitation from the Hunan provincial government to set up a caring center for HIV/AIDS patients.

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