By Doris Yu
In an exclusive five-part interview for The Jesuit Post, Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, expressed his desire for further emphasis on youth ministry, which took on special pertinence in light of his presence at MAGIS 2013 in Salvador, Brazil, where the interview took place.
After celebrating Mass and engaging with the 2,000 young pilgrims in attendance at MAGIS 2013, Fr. Nicolás spoke with Jesuit scholastic Eric Sundrup, associate editor of The Jesuit Post, discussing topics including youth ministry, inner peace and silence, vocations, social media and his interactions with Pope Francis.
Fr. Nicolás described working with the youth as a “de facto priority” and pointed to the fact that the 160 Jesuits who traveled to MAGIS 2013, a two-week Jesuit-sponsored youth immersion experience preceding World Youth Day, indicated the significance of youth ministry for the Society of Jesus.
He drew connections between working with the youth and an increase in vocations. “It is also clear that the provinces that have dedicated more resources to the youth are getting more vocations, which is an interesting point,” said Fr. Nicolás. Further elaborating on the topic, he stressed the need for vocations to the Society from those with a sense of humor and an open mind.
Fr. Nicolás called for Ignatian discernment on approaching the frontier of new media for the Society, a special point of interest for The Jesuit Post and closely linked to the topic of youth ministry. “I think that there we might have one of the biggest challenges: how to present Jesuit spirituality, which is a spirituality of reflection, of Examen, of meditation, of consultation, prayers, et cetera, to a generation that is used to instant information and instant response,” said Fr. Nicolás.
In the midst of the digital media revolution Fr. General drew attention to silence and advised the cultivation of “the chapel we carry within ourselves” at all times, in order to tap into the inner peace necessary to hear the Spirit.
On Pope Francis, Fr. Nicolás said, “I have to confess I find it very easy to communicate with him. I speak with him like I would speak with any other Jesuit, knowing that he is not going to misunderstand me. I don’t have to measure my words. I can speak totally freely.”
Concluding the interviews, Fr. Nicolás carried the conversation back to finding God in all things, especially the youth. “So in the Jesuit vision of reality there is a high esteem for God’s creation, and there is no situation, no human situation, no social situation, that is alien to us. So our challenge is … how to find God in the hearts of the young, even those who don’t come to Church, and even those who don’t even believe in Christ … This is the challenge that we carry with us, and I think that I like very much that the pope calls us to go out and find God.”
View the first video, containing links to the remainder of the interviews, below.