by Gjergji Evangjeli
Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, concluded a two-week visit to the US on October 12. He had a packed schedule as he moved through Boston, New York, St. Lewis, and Chicago where he engaged in many activities, including attending a meeting with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
Fr. Nicolás’ visit began in Boston, where he met with faculty members of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He told students and seminarians that the Church needs Jesuits who are men of great intellectual depth. He also reminded them that, when being called to the Society of Jesus, they are being called to join a universal vocation. “To be available in a universal way,” he said, “calls for us to be creative, and to be creative we need to be men of prayer.” While in Boston, Fr. Nicolás met with 55 Jesuit scholastics from 20 different countries.
The Superior General also visited the Campion Center in Weston, where the New England Province’s infirm and elderly Jesuits live. Fr. Nicolás took the time to visit with every Jesuit at the facility. Before departing for New York, he also celebrated the Final Vows Mass for Fr. John Siberski, S.J. at Campion.
During his two-day visit to New York, Fr. Nicolás celebrated the Eucharist with 150 Jesuits, met with Jesuits in formation and visited the province infirmary. Fr. Thomas Scirghi, S.J., Rector of the Jesuit Community at Spellman Hall at Fordham University, underlined that Fr. Nicolás spoke on the danger of being too involved in too many diverse activities, since that detracts from plunging deeply into any one of those activities. Fr. Nicolás also spoke on the importance of the Jesuits as preachers, teachers, and spiritual directors who aid in freeing all those in contact with them through the message of the Gospel.
His St. Louis visit was focused on meeting with novices and scholastics. He celebrated Mass with 30 Jesuits in first studies and met with novices on several occasions. Fr. Ronal Mercier, S.J., who was recently named the first Provincial of the US Central and Southern Provinces, mentioned how Father General warned against paying too much attention to success. He warned that, though success is significant, the real concern should be about how Christ is present and it is best to focus one’s attention on Christ. Fr. Mercier sees this as a powerful message for an incoming provincial.
The last stop of his visit took Fr. Nicolás to Chicago, where he spent time with all nine US provincials and two provincials from Canada. He also attended a meeting of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, on October 10-11 at Loyola University Chicago. This event was the first where the Father General met with the presidents and chairs for the Boards of Trustees of all 28 Jesuit institutes of higher education in the US. He stressed that Jesuit institutions in the US need to talk about rethinking how Jesuit schools in this country can have the maximum impact on increasing the quality of education in Jesuit schools in other countries, while at the same time also learning from them. Fr. Nicolás then met with the president and board chair of each school for brief discussion on each institution and to thank the increasing amount of lay members who have taken responsibility in many Jesuit institutions of higher learning for their contribution.
The Superior General’s words were received with much joy. One Jesuit told Fr. Mercier that listening to Fr. Nicolás’ words gave him a sense of deep hope for the future. It is only reasonable to assume that he is not alone in feeling this way.