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Adolfo Nicolás, former superior general of Jesuits, dies in Japan

After a prolonged illness, the former superior general of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolás, died in Tokyo.

This is one of the last photos taken of him, during the pope's trip to Japan in November 2019.

This is one of his signature gestures, seen as he greets his successor as leader of the Society of Jesus. 

In January, 2008, he was elected superior general of the Jesuits. In 2016, upon turning 80, he resigned from the position so his diminishing strength wouldn't compromise the Jesuits' activities.

July, 2014
“Certainly, I cannot lead the Society under years of personal decay. After the age of 80, you start that process of decay. I prefer to leave the job, while I still retain my senses, and not wait until Jesuits start asking themselves, 'This old man in Rome is still there?' That is not very positive. You have to do things with a certain clarity, and it's better to start preparing things now.”

In a message circulated by the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa, the current superior of the Jesuits, remembers Adolfo Nicolás' complete dedication to God, his intense service, his calm availability, his courage, his sense of humor and his humility.

Superior General of the Society of Jesus
“The memory of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás is a reason to reiterate our gratitude to the Lord, for all the blessings He has given us. Among them is the gift of the life of our brother, Nico. He was a gift to the People of God and a light for those of us who want to serve God in the Society of Jesus.”

Adolfo Nicolás was born in Palencia, Spain, in April, 1936.

He entered the Jesuit novitiate when he was 17 years old.

He volunteered to go to Japan as a missionary. There, he was ordained a priest when he was 30 years old. He also spent 10 years in the Philippines.

At 72 years of age, he was elected superior general of the Jesuits, a role he carried out until 2016. During those years, he collaborated closely with Benedict XVI and, later, with Pope Francis.