Featuring a letter from Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ
on my Jubilee year as a Jesuit
Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ
Society of Jesus
Rev. Fr. Arsenio C. Jesenia, SJ
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City
Dear Father Jesena,
It is my joy to congratulate you in this Jubilee year of your
becoming a Jesuit and to wish you a full measure of Christ's
grace and peace. I add to this the gratitude of the Society for
the many ministries you have engaged in, both in Mindanao
and in Metro Manila.
Though you were born in Negros Occidental, I notice how
your early formation took place in different cities: Bacolod,
Iloilo and finally Davao where you nurtured your contact with
the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Davao. That association seems to
have warmed quickly, for you entered Sacred Heart Novitiate
after just three years of College.
Novaliches was to be your home in the Society for the
next five years. With the new scholasticate at Loyola Heights
still not ready, your first two years of philosophy were added
to the usual early formation that is given at Novaliches'
sprawling compound. Only in 1965 did the move to Loyola
House of Studies take place, so you had the distinction of
being in the first batch to grace the new center on the Ateneo
de Manila's campus.
Regency for you was done just across the campus at the
Ateneo de Manila University High School, where you taught Latin, English and
Religion before returning to Loyola House of Studies for Theology. During those
Years of Theology, impressive was the experiment you
undertook: living with Sacadas back in your native Negros.
That experience was articulated in an important report, "The
Sacadas of Sugarland," that helped fire concern for the social
apostolate in the early 1970's.
Your ordination was slightly anticipated, since His
Holiness Pope Paul VI was visiting the Philippines in the late
1970. You had another distinct privilege in being ordained at
the Luneta by the Holy Father.
You then completed Theology
and went on to study labor problems at the Institue of Social Order,
cooperatives in Cagayan de Oro and leadership training in
Victorias, Negros Occidental. Indeed your first decade as a
young Priest was working for the Social Apostolate, mainly in
Bukidnon where you directed the diocese's Social Action
Social Action, however, in those first years of Martial Law
was not an easy task, and it took its toll on you. A year at the
Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio helped somewhat to
refresh your resources. Upon your return to Manila in 1981,
you moved to Xavier House as Province Secretary, and
complemented that assignment with Guidance Counseling
at the Ateneo de Manila.
Unfortunately, a tragic accident the following year added
extra crosses to the struggles your Jesuit life had to face. The
victim of a hit-and-run incident near the Ateneo, you spent a
number of weeks in the hospital.
Recovery was difficult, not
just from physical wounds but from the inner turmoil that the
accident had complicated. To facilitate healing you were
granted an extended sabbatical in the United States, and
spent much of the time working in a parish on Long Island,
In 1986 you returned to Manila to begin fifteen years
handling a variety of assignments at the Ateneo de Manila
University and at Xavier School. Teaching, campus ministry,
chaplaincy work, retreats comprised your ministries during
those years. You began teaching at the Ateneo de Davao
University in 2001, but returned to the Ateneo de Manila
University’s Jesuit Resident two years later.
have been increasingly burdensome, and for years you have
borne these without complaint, accepting what could be
done within the various limitations imposed to you.
Writing is one ministry that has engaged your talents
these past ten years. At the end of 1998 the first of your Yayee
volumes appeared, celebrating God's redeeming love in the
midst of brokenness. Five versions of that theme have
appeared, including one in Visayan. And Yayee 2 won special
recognition in Cardinal Sin's Catholic Media awards for
Jubilee Year 2000. I congratulate these efforts, Fr. Jesena, and
encourage your attention to them.
I also pray that God may bless your long life in the Society
with a renewed sense of wonder at his goodness. So many
years of persevering Jesuit service are truly a cause for
May your striving to faithfully live out your
vocation be a never-ending source of joy and strength for
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Adolfo Nicolás, SJ