Fr Nicolas celebrates his golden jubilee

Fr Nicolas cuts his celebration cake
Fr Nicolas cuts his celebration cake

Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ marked his golden jubilee as a priest on March 17 in a manner in keeping with his characteristic humility.  The simple celebration comprised Mass in the Oratory of the Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo of Manila University, concelebrated by Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific President Fr Mark Raper SJ and Arrupe International Residence Superior Fr Renato Repole SJ and dinner in the AIR refectory.

“It is a joy for us to celebrate you Nico. I hope you enjoy it too, even if you do not like to be the centre of attention,” said Fr Raper as he began his homily. 

“For almost nine years Fr Adolfo Nicolás was our representative and leader, the point of unity among us, our guide and compass, the keeper of our secrets,” he told the congregation composed mainly of Jesuits and friends.

“Nico called us often to rediscover our universality, the potential we possess as an international and multicultural body,” recalled Fr Raper adding, “Now missioned to EAPI (East Asia Pastoral Institute) and to Arrupe International Residence, Nico has again the opportunity to live locally this universality which has always been part of the Ignatian vision of a ‘world-wide community’ and ‘a network of local communities’.”

It has been little more than a month since Fr Nicolás returned to the Philippines on February 16 and settled into his room in Arrupe house.  Fr Nicolás had been President of what was then the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania before he was elected Superior General in 2008, and he had asked his provincial (of the Japan Province) if he could be missioned to the Philippines again.

“Here he is ‘Nico’, he is a brother, ‘one among us’ as a ‘participant’ at EAPI, a brother at Arrupe,” said Fr Raper.  “Welcome home, Nico and thank you for all you have given of yourself in 50 years as a priest.”

Fr Nicolás thanked everyone at the Mass for their presence and entreated them to live fully to the minima societas, the minimal Society of Jesus.

“From the point of view of God we are all minima societas. Even if we were 20 times more members than we are now, we are still minima societas compared to the mission that we have,” he reminded them, adding that living to the minima societas also means allowing him to simply be “Nico”.

“I am asking you to allow me to be the ‘Nico’ of old times, not the former Fr General or emeritus,” he said.

What is important, he said, is to “look at the mission of Christ and the mission we have and there we can be united at looking forward”.

The simple celebratory dinner that followed had a short programme prepared by the scholastics.  This included video greetings from Fr Nicolás’ confreres in the Japan Province and messages from his old friends.

To cap the celebration, Fr Repole presented Fr Nicolás with a burnt wood painting of Jesus Christ and a small cross made by inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.

Fr Mark Raper’s homily can be read here

This report appeared first on the website of the Asia Pacific conference