Jun 5, 2020 | Story by: Jody Sim, April Fools CLC | Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General, Fr. Nico, World CLC Ecclesiastical Assistant, Society of Jesus
Fr. Nico - An Ordinary Person in the Campus
by Jody Sim, April Fools CLC
When I joined the administrative staff of East Asian Pastoral Institute in 2008, among the residents there was a tall and lanky priest with a deep baritone voice. He was a simple man with a ready smile and he was a friend to everyone. I learned that this simple and friendly Jesuit was the former Director of EAPI. He was Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ.
As I got know him better, I found out that he was deep and profound and enjoyed a good laugh. He loved to share jokes a funny stories but oftentimes we could not understand the punchline because he would be laughing at his own stories even before he is finished. We would laugh with him even if we did not understand because his laughter was contagious.
He loved to walk around the campus. He would often be seen walking in his favorite black and white striped sport shirt - just walking like any ordinary person in the campus.
He was invited to the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in 2008 where a successor to Fr. Peter Hanz Kolvenbach, S.J., the Superior General of all the Jesuits, would be elected. I remember that before he left I told him jokingly to choose wisely because our life will be affected by whoever becomes the new Superior General. He answered, "Don't worry, Jody, there are many capable who can lead us forward." Little did we know that he would be the one to lead us forward.
After his election, he was not seen for a while as he had to stay in Rome to be oriented and get acquainted with his new life there. Even when he was in Rome as the new Superior General, I would still send him jokes and funny stories until it occurred to me that it may no longer be appropriate, given that he was now the Superior General of the Jesuits worldwide. I was afraid that I was not giving him the respect due to his new position. I apologized to him. Surprisingly, in spite of his busy schedule, he wrote back and said to "continue with the jokes because it keeps me human."
When he finally came back to the Philippines after about 6 months in Rome, it was to pack and tie up whatever unfinished business he had. We waited excitedly at the lobby of the EAPI for his arrival. As soon as he arrived, after the very warm welcome given him by a small group of administrators who knew him, he asked to be excused. We obliged knowing that he must have needed to rest after a long flight from Rome.
To our surprise, he came back down from his room in his favorite black and white striped shirt, ready to walk around the campus - just like any ordinary person in the campus.
After his term as the Superior General, he decided to come back to the Philippines. I went to see him. He still had his smile. His mind was still sharp but his sickness slurred his speech and he talked slowly. He apologized that his sickness made it difficult for him to be understood. I felt so saddened that I responded, "Fr. Nico, it is not so much what you say that is important. Your presence here with us is more than enough." I don't know where those words came from. It must be the Holy Spirit giving him some words of consolation.
It is therefore with mixed feelings of sadness and joy that I received the news of Fr. Nico's passing. I am sure he must have suffered much from not being able to communicate with people around him. I am glad this pain and suffering is over but I shall miss him tremendously.
Fr. Nico, your utmost simplicity is your most profound gift to all of us. Rest now, Fr. Nico. And may your new found voice, your jokes and funny stories, bring joy and laughter to Jesus, Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, and all the saints in heaven.