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Superior General of the Jesuits to visit California Province during its Centennial

Date Posted:  January 5, 2009

LOS GATOS, Calif.--Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., recently elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, will soon embark from Rome on a historic visit to California. From January 30 through February 7, Fr. Nicolás will visit the Society’s California Province as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. On a tour spanning 9 days, 11 cities, and nearly 30 different sites, Fr. Nicolás will meet many of the nearly 390 Jesuits who are members of the California Province, hundreds of their lay partners, and still more parishioners, students, volunteers, and benefactors associated with Jesuit parishes, schools, and ministries.

The Society of Jesus, the single largest men’s religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, assigns about 18,300 Jesuits to ministries worldwide. The Superior General of the Society is addressed as Father General, a term that hearkens back to Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society who was canonized in 1622.

Fr. Nicolás (pictured at left) was born in 1936 in Spain where he entered the Jesuits in 1953. He studied theology in Tokyo and was ordained to the priesthood there in 1967. On January 19, 2008, he was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus at its 35th General Congregation in Rome.

Each Jesuit province is led by a provincial whose normal term of office is six years. Rev. John P. McGarry, S.J., currently serves as the California Provincial.

In announcing the visit, Fr. McGarry said, “The visitation of Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., to the California Province is a great blessing and an exciting way to begin our Centennial year of responding to the call of Christ as Jesuits and apostolic partners in mission. Having been a delegate to the 35th General Congregation at which Fr. Nicolás was elected Superior General, I can tell you what a grace his leadership is for the Society of Jesus at this time in our history. Not only will Father General be able to witness firsthand the outstanding work that so many Jesuits and laypersons are doing together as apostolic partners in our schools, universities, social, and pastoral ministries, but his presence will link us in a very concrete way to the 95 provinces in the worldwide Society of Jesus and to our service of the universal Church.”

“Fr. Nicolás is a warm and friendly human being, a dedicated priest, a prayerful Jesuit, and a wise and learned leader. I very much look forward to introducing him to the California Province, and all of you to him,” added Fr. McGarry.

Beginning in Los Angeles, Fr. Nicolás will tour Homeboy Industries, a job-training program for former gang members; dine with migrant men at the Guadalupe Homeless Project; celebrate a multilingual Mass (in English, Spanish, and Tagalog) at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood; and deliver a keynote address at Loyola Marymount University. In Sacramento, Fr. Nicolas will attend an assembly at Jesuit High School for students of JHS and Cristo Rey High School. In San Francisco, Fr. Nicolás will celebrate Mass at St. Ignatius Church. In the East Bay, he will visit the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) in Oakland. In San Jose, he will celebrate a multilingual Mass (in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Tagalog) at Most Holy Trinity Parish, then conclude his visit at the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos.

During his stay in California, Fr. Nicolás will meet with Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco; Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of San Jose; and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento.

Italian Jesuits first came from Oregon to California during the 1849 Gold Rush. In 1909, the California Province was separated from Italy’s Turin Province. Soon, the California Province developed a distinct American identity and mission geared toward the needs of people living in the western United States. Today, the California Province serves an area comprised of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. In 1996, the California Province adopted four main apostolic goals which continue to guide its Jesuits and lay partners: fostering partnership in our Ignatian mission; strengthening solidarity with the poor; responding to the diversity of our Province; and evangelizing contemporary culture.