Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. said Mass at a 2013 meeting of Jesuit provincials with AJCU presidents and board chairs at Loyola University Chicago
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. spoke to Jesuit provincials, AJCU presidents and board chairs at Loyola University Chicago in 2013
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. with Jesuit provincials, AJCU presidents and board chairs at Loyola University Chicago in 2013
Patrick Nolan (former Executive Assistant to the President of AJCU), Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. and Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (President of AJCU)
Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi (President, University of Detroit Mercy), Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J. (President, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States), Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J. (Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education) and Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. with Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J. (former President of the University of San Francisco), Rev. Robert Wild, S.J. (former President of Marquette University) and Rev. Timothy Lannon, S.J. (former President of Creighton University and Saint Joseph’s University)
Paul Tagliabue (former Chair of the Georgetown University Board of Directors), Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. and Dr. John DeGioia (President of Georgetown University)
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. with Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J. (President of Rockhurst University) and Rev. Douglas Marcouiller, S.J. (General Counselor and Regional Assistant for the USA Assistancy at the Jesuit Curia in Rome)
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. with Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. (President of Fordham University) and Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J. (former President of Loyola University New Orleans)
Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. at Mass during the 2013 meeting of Jesuit provincials with AJCU presidents and board chairs at Loyola University Chicago
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) mourns Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., who died in Tokyo on May 20. He served as the Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 2008 to 2016.
AJCU’s President, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., said, “Fr. Nicolás will be remembered as a leader who spoke and inspired out of a deep well of religious hope, which led him to optimism about the fruits of change in the Church and in the Society of Jesus. He exemplified Christian love – especially for those on the margins of Society – which he called Jesuit schools to promote across the world.”
During his time as Superior General, Fr. Nicolás was based in Rome and became close with Pope Francis. But his role took him across the world, including Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canada and Mexico. Fr. Nicolás also spent significant time in Asia, where he previously served as Provincial of the Japanese Jesuit Province and as head of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania.
Fr. Nicolás was keenly aware of the opportunities and challenges brought on by globalization, and focused on promoting mission and vocation among youth in this era of rapid societal and technological change. In an address to presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities in Mexico City in 2010, he warned that the impact of the internet could lead to the “globalization of superficiality.” He stated:
“When one can access so much information so quickly and so painlessly; when one can express and publish to the world one’s reactions so immediately and so unthinkingly in one’s blogs or micro-blogs; when the latest opinion column from The New York Times or El Pais, or the newest viral video can be spread so quickly to people half a world away, shaping their perceptions and feelings, then the laborious, painstaking work of serious, critical thinking often gets short-circuited.”
Three years later, in October 2013, Fr. Nicolás met separately with the U.S. Jesuit Provincials and presidents of the American Jesuit colleges and universities, as well as their Board of Trustee chairs and Jesuit community rectors, during an historic meeting at Loyola University Chicago. In reflecting upon the meeting, Fr. Sheeran said, “Fr. Nicolás challenged these particular groups of people to acknowledge their critical responsibility for promoting the Jesuit worldview at their schools, and providing a transformative focus on serving their neighbors in need.”
Shortly before his resignation in 2016, Fr. Nicolás invited all member institutions of AJCU to participate in the Mission Priority Examen (MPE). He worked with members of the AJCU network to coordinate and implement the MPE during its first year. Fr. Sheeran explained, “The MPE is a self-study for each institution to identify the aspects of Jesuit education that help it to make the most impact in serving God by making the world a better place. The first round of the MPEs are being completed this spring, the results of which will be shared with Fr. Nicolás’ successor, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J.”
The impact of Fr. Nicolás’ leadership will continue to be felt across the AJCU network in the years to come. Through the MPE and his addresses in Mexico City and Chicago, Fr. Nicolás challenged leaders of Jesuit colleges and universities to embrace and adhere to their mission, while demonstrating an appreciation for the struggles they face in the 21st century. In recognition of this tension, he offered this advice in 2010:
“As secularism and fundamentalism spread globally, I believe that our universities are called to find new ways of creatively renewing this commitment to a dialogue between faith and culture that has always been a distinguishing mark of Jesuit learned ministry…I am convinced that the Church asks this intellectual commitment of the Society because the world today needs such a service.
“The unreasoning stance of fundamentalism distorts faith and promotes violence in the world, as many of you know from experience. The dismissive voice of secularism blocks the Church from offering to the world the wisdom and resources that the rich theological, historical, cultural heritage of Catholicism can offer to the world. Can Jesuit universities today, with energy and creativity, continue the legacy of Jesuit learned ministry and forge intellectual bridges between Gospel and culture, faith and reason, for the sake of the world and its great questions and problems?”
Ten years later, the challenge of this statement continues to drive Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.
To learn more about Fr. Nicolás, please click here. All photos above were taken by Bruce Powell at Loyola University Chicago in 2013.