New Superior General Elected
WASHINGTON, January 19, 2008 – After four days of prayer and personal conversation known as murmurationes, the 217 Jesuit electors gathered in Rome from around the world have chosen Adolfo Nicolás, SJ as the 30th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was the President of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania and the former Provincial of Japan. He is now Father General to nearly 20,000 Jesuits worldwide, including 2,900 in the United States, and the 29th successor to St. Ignatius Loyola who founded the Jesuits in 1540.
Jesuit Conference of the United States President Father Thomas Smolich, SJ, who served on the Coetus Praevius (a planning committee for GC 35) with Father Nicolás, said, “The electors chose the man God had in mind.” Smolich added, “Our new Father General is profoundly spiritual; when you talk to him there is a depth that is striking.”
In an age where diverse cultures, religions and ways of life interact on an unprecedented scale, Father Nicolás is widely viewed as among the leading Jesuit experts on inter-religious dialogue. “His history as a scholar and theology professor, educated in both Tokyo and Rome, and his multiple language skills of east and west were also important to this international body of educators,” said Father Fred Kammer, SJ, provincial of New Orleans and one of the electors. “His experiences of the dynamic emerging Church in such countries as India, Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines and his vision for spreading the Gospel appealed to many – reminding them of the great missionary St. Francis Xavier,” according to Kammer.
New York Provincial Father Jeff Chojnacki, SJ added, “his election is a bridge to all parts of the world.” It is a bridge expected to reach across not only geographic divisions. Father Shogo Sumita, SJ, current provincial of Japan, recalled how Father Nicolás moved from the provincial residence to one of poorest neighborhoods. “He has a deep grace of Ignatian spirituality and a creative imagination. After serving as provincial, he decided to live and work with the poor,” said Father Sumita.
Father Nicolás was born in Spain, earned a degree in systematic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, taught at the Sophia University in Tokyo, directed the East Asia Pastoral Institute in the Philippines, served as presiding secretary of the 34th General Congregation in 1995, and speaks five languages. His visits to the United States have included stops at the Arrupe Experience, an annual preparation program for American Jesuits nearing ordination.
The Provincial of Maryland Father Tim Brown, SJ sees the election of a man with this breadth to be a “sign of unity and peace.” New England Provincial Father Tom Regan adds, “We are delighted that such a holy man, one who has such a vision of the world, has been selected to lead us.”
“And at 71 years old,” says Father Smolich, “Nicolás walks faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.”