Jesuits’ Superior General Adolfo Nicolás intents to resign in 2016
While the position of Superior General is a lifelong appointment, Father Nicolás is not the first Jesuit to take this unusual step.
Having recently reached the age of 78, Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Jesuits, has announced his intention to resign.
Father Nicolás, who has been Superior General since 2008, said that he has received the approval of his advisers and has informed Pope Francis that he intends to convoke a General Congregation for the latter part of 2016, during which he will formally submit his resignation and his successor will be elected.
While the position of Superior General is a lifelong appointment, Father Nicolás is not the first Jesuit to take this unusual step. His predecessor, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, also resigned at the age of 79.
In a letter to the entire Society of Jesus dated May 20, Father Nicolás wrote: “Reflecting on the coming years, I have reached the personal conviction that I should take the needed steps towards submitting my resignation to a General Congregation.”
The General Congregation is an assembly of senior Jesuit representatives from around the world that is always convoked on the death or resignation of the Superior General to choose his successor and may also be called to deal with significant matters for the whole Society.
Father Nicolás said that with his decision, the meeting of Provincials that was scheduled to take place in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta in January 2015 is cancelled.
Adolfo Nicolás was born at Villamuriel de Cerrato in Palencia in Spain, on April 29, 1936. He entered the Jesuit novitiate of Aranjuez in 1953. He studied at the University of Alcalá, where he earned his licentiate in philosophy. In 1960, he was assigned to Japan where he studied theology at Sophia University in Tokyo. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 17, 1967.
From 1968 to 1971, Father Nicolás studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for his doctorate in theology. Upon his return to Japan, he was made professor of systematic theology at Sophia University, teaching there for the next 30 years.
For six years from 1978, he was the Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University in Philippines. He then went on to serve as rector of the theologate in Tokyo before being appointed as the Jesuit Provincial of Japan. Following his term as Provincial, Father Nicolás remained in Japan, doing pastoral work among poor immigrants in Tokyo. In 2004, Father Nicolás returned to the Philippines as President of the Jesuit Conference of Provincials for Eastern Asia and Oceania.
A native Spanish speaker, Father Nicolás is also fluent in Catalan, English, Italian, French, and Japanese.