Nickerson, Oliver E.Died
Jesuit Father Oliver E. Nickerson died at Campion Center, Weston, Mass., on Jan. 31, 2013. He was born Sept. 9, 1923, in Boston, and he entered the Society on June 30, 1941.
He would realize later he was born on the Feast of St. Peter Claver, a figure who was important to him during his ministry in Jamaica. His father was Oliver E. Nickerson and his mother was Ruth Anne Dunderdale. He had three brothers (William, Jerome and James) and one sister (Mary Theresa). During the second year of his novitiate, his sister Mary Theresa was born. His sister would enter the Holy Cross Sisters as Sister Ruth Marie. His brother Bill, a graduate of Gonzaga High School, was for twelve years a member of the Maryland Province.
Fr. Nickerson grew up in the Ashmont section of Dorchester. Later, the family moved to New Jersey. He attended the Boston Latin School, Columbia High School, Maplewood, New Jersey and Boston College High School. While in New Jersey, Fr. Nickerson thought of entering the Benedictines, since the family attended a Benedictine-run parish; however, the Benedictines were not interested in Fr. Nickerson. Later he was influenced by his cousin George McKeon, S.J., who was five years older than Fr. Nickerson, to enter the Society. He graduated from BC High in 1941 and entered the Society two weeks later.
In 1949 Fr. Nickerson was sent to Japan to teach English to American soldiers and young Japanese. This was not considered a permanent assignment to Japan, but lasted only for two years. He began theological studies at Weston in 1951. He was ordained in 1954. In his fourth year of theology Fr. Arrupe, then superior of Japan, visited him at Weston. He asked Fr. Nickerson if he would like to return to Japan. Fr. Nickerson answered yes. Fr. Nickerson was not assigned to the Japanese mission, but was sent to tertianship in Pomfret.
His first assignment after tertianship was as an Assistant Dean and later as Registrar at Boston College. The following year he was assigned to Fairfield University, where he taught English for the next 22 years. In 1979 he asked to be assigned to the prep school full time. He taught there until 1985, when he went to Jamaica. The following year Archbishop Carter told Fr. Nickerson to attend the Confirmation Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. In the sacristy, the Archbishop asked Fr. Nickerson where the processional cross was. Fr. Nickerson went to the pastor and was told there was no processional cross. Fr. Nickerson informed the Archbishop that there was no cross. The Archbishop told him to get one, since he was the new pastor. This is how Fr. Nickerson was informed of his new assignment.
Fr. Nickerson loved his years in Jamaica and hoped to die there. Sister Ruth Marie, C.S.C., was particularly kind to her brother in those years; she helped Fr. Nickerson out in many ways. But on his regular home visit to the States last year, while visiting his brother William in Maryland, he fell ill and a series of setbacks made a return to Jamaica inadvisable. He came to Campion Center in Sept. 2012, where he was cared for in the Health Center until his death.