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Understanding the man: an early conversation with Father General Nicolás
Father General met with three Jesuits soon after his election to talk about his family, his early life as a Jesuit and what he learned during four decades in Asia teaching theology and holding Jesuit leadership positions.
Read the conversation
1936/ born on April 29 in Villamuriel de Cerrato (Palencia province), Spain, about four miles from the capital city Palencia. The third of four brothers (Antonio, Félix, Adolfo and José), his father Adolfo originated from the province of Burgos and his mother Modesta hailed from the small town Villalaco in the Palencia province.
1940/ His father, a military professional, was transferred to Barcelona. There Adolfo attended the Jaime Balmes Institute for his 1st year of high school [a seven year program at that time in Spain]. He did his second and third year at the Christian Brothers school in Barcelona. In 1949 he did his fourth year of high school at the Minor Seminary of Saint Joseph that the Jesuits of the Tarraconense Province ran in the town of Roquetas del Mar.
1950/ his father was transferred to Madrid; Adolfo completed his remaining three years of secondary education at the Jesuit's Areneros high school, graduating in 1953 with the highest distinction the school granted.
1953/ on September 15 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Aranjuez in what was then the Province of Toledo. His philosophy studies were done in Alcala de Henares, obtaining in Ph.L. in 1960. He then left for Japan for language studies.
1964-68/ he studied theology in Tokyo and was ordained priest there on March 17, 1967.
1968-71/ he did his doctoral work at the Gregorian and wrote his doctoral dissertation, Theology of Progress.
1971/ he became Professor of Systematic Theology at Sophia University in Tokyo.
1978-84/ he was director of the Pastoral Institute in Manila , Philippines. This Institute was formed after the Vatican II to work on aggiornamento and has had wide influence in the theological renewal of all of Asia. Asian bishops and novice directors received their formation there.
1991-93/ he was Rector of the house of Jesuit students in Tokyo.
1993-99/ he was made Provincial of Japan and in that capacity he attended GC34 in 1995, where on the first ballot he was elected secretary of the congregation.
2000-03/ he moved to a poor parish of immigrants in Tokyo. He was able to help thousands of Philippino and Asian immigrants, in the process gaining a first hand experience of their suffering. In this way his love for the poor and oppressed became his most important ministry.
2004-08/ he became Moderator of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania. This means he was responsible for the entire region of South Asia, from Myanmar (Burma) to East Timor, including the newly formed China Province. During these years he was a firm supporter of the Jesuit presence in Vietnam and other countries.
2007/ he served as a member of the Coetus Previus (preparatory commission) of GC35
2008/ on January 19 he was elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus.