Former superior general of Jesuits mourned

Father Nicolás. Photo: CNS
Father Nicolás. Photo: CNS

ROME (UCAN/SE): The Jesuit General Curia in Rome announced that its former superior general, Father Adolfo Nicolás, died on May 20 in Tokyo, Japan. He was 84-years-old. He was a member of the Jesuit community of Loyola House in Kamishakujii and had been ill for several years.

A statement from the Jesuits said he is deeply mourned by the Jesuits of Japan and Asia-Pacific, his family and compatriots in Spain, and his many friends around the world.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the Jesuit province of Japan, to Father Nicolas’ family, to the Jesuits in Spain and the Philippines and to his many friends all around the world,” said Father Arturo Sosa, current superior general.

Father Nicolás gave of himself throughout his life. It was a life marked by intense service, calm availability and a deep ability to inculturate in Japan, where he went as a young Jesuit. It was a culture he loved dearly and to which he committed himself.

“His time as general was marked by his sense of humour, his courage, his humility and his close relationship with Pope Francis. All of us here at the Jesuit General Curia mourn him and a special Mass will be offered here in Rome as soon as we can organise it.”

Father Sosa said all who worked with Father Nicolás in the General Curia greatly appreciated his presence.

“He will be greatly mourned throughout the society as a wise, humble and dedicated Jesuit, a man of grace and wisdom, simple, unpretentious,” he said.

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He had a strong relationship with Pope Benedict and close and warm bonds with Pope Francis.

Father Nicolás was born in Palencia, Spain, on 29 April 1936. He entered the Society of Jesus in September 1953 and was ordained a priest on 17 March 1967.

As a scholastic, he was sent to the mission of Japan, where he was a professor of theology, rector of scholastics and provincial, later dedicating himself to social work with immigrants in Tokyo.

For 10 years he lived in the Philippines, serving as director of the East Asia Pastoral Institute (EAPI) and as president of the Conference of Provincials of East Asia and Oceania. After presenting his resignation as superior general of the Jesuits, he was a spiritual director at EAPI and in the Arrupe International Residence in Manila.

Father Nicolás served as superior general of the Jesuits from January 2008 to October 2016.

Speaking to La Civilta Cattolica at the end of his term, he said, “We must think of humanity as a unity, not as an ensemble of so many countries separate from each other… It’s necessary to conceive of the human race in need of God and in need of a kind of depth that can come only from a union of all people.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated in Rome in the Church of Gesù at a date to be determined. 

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A special website at about Father Nicolás has been created with photos and articles at https://nicolas.jesuitgeneral.org/en/.

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