Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ 

Jesuits mourn passing of former Superior General

Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, died on Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan. He was Superior General from 2008 to 2016.

By Vatican News

The Jesuit Curia in Rome on Wednesday announced the death of former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ. He died in Tokyo, Japan, on 20 May after being ill for a number of years. He was 84 years old.

“With sorrow, but at the same time full of gratitude, I wish to inform you that today… the Lord called to Himself Father Adolfo Nicolás, our former Superior General,” said Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, current Superior General, in a message to the Jesuits.

Fr. Sosa remembers his predecessor as “a gift for the People of God and… for the future… a light for those who desire to serve the same Lord in the Society of Jesus.” 

He describes Fr. Adolfo as “a wise, humble and free man; totally and generously given to service; moved by those who suffer in the world, but at the same time overflowing with hope drawn from his faith in the Risen Lord.”


Fr. Nicolás was born on 29 April 1936 in Palencia, Spain to Adolfo Nicolás Rico and Modesta Pachón. He spent most of his childhood in Barcelona and nursed thoughts about having a career in education as a member of a congregation of Brothers.

After being put in contact with the Jesuits by his brother, he entered the Society of Jesus on 14 September 1953 and was ordained a priest on 17 March 1967. During his philosophy studies, he responded to a call from the then Superior General, Father Jansens, who invited Jesuits to volunteer for missions abroad. Fr. Adolfo was sent to the mission of Japan.

After finishing his philosophy, Fr. Adolfo went to Japan where he did his regency and completed his theology studies. He then completed a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, in Rome. 

He served in various apostolic areas. Among others, he was a professor of Systematic Theology, rector of Jesuit scholastics and provincial of Japan. For ten years he lived in the Philippines, serving as the Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) and later as President of the Conference of Provincials of East Asia and Oceania.

Fr. Adolfo Nicolás was elected the thirtieth superior General of the Jesuits by the 35th General Congregation on 19 January 2008. Eight years later, on 3 October 2016, he offered his resignation to the 36th General Congregation on grounds that his health no longer allowed him to carry out his mission as he should. 

Prayer by Fr. Adolfo Nicolás

“The best way to remember Father Adolfo Nicolás may be a brief prayer written in his own hand after an eight-day retreat with his General Council in 2011,” said Fr. Sosa. “It is an excellent synthesis of his person and his spirituality.”

Lord Jesus,

What weaknesses did you see in us that made you decide to call us, in spite of everything, to collaborate in your mission? 

We give you thanks for having called us, and we beg you not to forget your promise to be with us to the end of time. 

Frequently we are invaded by the feeling of having worked all night in vain, forgetting, perhaps, that you are with us. 

We ask that you make yourself present in our lives and in our work, today, tomorrow, and in the future yet to come. 

Fill with your love these lives of ours, which we put at your service. 

Take from our hearts the egoism of thinking about what is “ours,” what is “mine”, always excluding, lacking compassion and joy. 

Enlighten our minds and our hearts, and do not forget to make us smile when things do not go as we wished. 

At the end of the day, of each one of our days, make us feel more united with you and better able to perceive and discover around us greater joy and greater hope. 

We ask all this from our reality. We are weak and sinful men, but we are your friends. Amen.

Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ: a man of grace and wisdom

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

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20 May 2020, 16:37