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Jesuits mourn the passing of former Superior General

‘Fr 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. His time as General was marked by his sense of humour, his courage, his humility and his close relationship with Pope Francis.’

The Jesuit General Curia in Rome announced on Wednesday evening that former Superior General, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, had died in Tokyo, Japan. He was a member of the Jesuit community of Loyola House in Kamishakujii, and had been ill for a number of years. 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 Fr. Nicolás’ family, to the Jesuits in Spain and the Philippines and to his many friends all around the world’, said Fr Arturo Sosa, current Superior General.

‘Fr 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. Because of travel restrictions just now, I cannot travel to Japan for the funeral but I assure all his many friends there of my closeness, my compassion and my condolences.’

Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy also paid tribute to Fr Nicolás, recalling both his time as Superior General and his ministry in the Asia Pacific region.

‘Those of us who were at General Congregation 36 in 2016 will never forget the words of Federico Lombardi SJ, who thanked him, on behalf of the Delegates present and the whole Society, for his life of service to the mission of the Society. Nor will we forget the outpouring of love and gratitude that was expressed by those of us present to Adolfo at that time’, said Fr McCoy.

‘Infectious humour, refreshing simplicity, clear insight and natural warmth… Ever so simple, yet carrying a profound wisdom’, wrote Former Australian Provincial and current Myanmar Superior Fr Mark Raper SJ, who succeeded Fr Nicolás as President of then Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania, now the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP).

JCAP President Fr Tony Moreno SJ described Fr Nicolás in the same light. ‘[He] was not known to promote himself. He was not self-referential. He detested clericalism in whatever form. He corrected people who referred to him as “Superior General Emeritus”.  He wanted to be known as he was without titles.’

All who worked with Fr Nicolás in the General Curia appreciated greatly his presence during his time as General.

‘He will be greatly mourned throughout the Society as a wise, humble and dedicated Jesuit, a man of grace and wisdom, simple, unpretentious’, said Fr Sosa.

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

‘The Society was founded to serve the Lord alone and the Church His spouse under the Roman Pontiff’, said Fr Sosa. ‘Fr Nicolás helped the Society to live in a concrete way this dimension so characteristic of our charism. It was a relationship of availability to the Holy Father which was also full of sincere affection.’

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

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