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Leo Nicoll, SJ

60 Years a Priest
Praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus


This year marks 60 years since Fr. Leo Nicoll, SJ, was ordained a Catholic priest.

Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1931, he entered the Society of Jesus immediately after his high school graduation.

Unlike most Jesuits who serve in a variety of capacities and in a variety of assignments, Fr. Nicoll served the majority of his active ministry in one place: Loyola University New Orleans. He arrived there in 1976 and remained through 2020, teaching history throughout his tenure. Previously, he taught the same subject at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., from 1970 to 1976.

While still in formation, he taught at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., and he returned there after ordination, 1963 – 1964. He also spent two years teaching at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La.

Since 2020, Fr. Nicoll has been praying for the Church and Society at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion in Grand Coteau, La.

He has earned three degrees in history: a bachelor’s from Spring Hill College in 1955, a master’s from Fordham University in 1960 and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna (Austria) in 1970.

Father Leo Nicoll’s Reflection on 60 Years as a Jesuit Priest

My focus is on gratitude. To God and my parents for my creation. To the Ursuline nuns and Christian Brothers who taught me in Galveston. To Brother Amedy and Brother Barnaby who guided me to the Society of Jesus. To Anthony Mangaricina my novice master. To C.J. McNaspy my Juniorate teacher. To Arnold Benedetto my philosophate teacher at Spring Hill College in Mobile. To Charles Lashley who taught me classroom discipline at Jesuit High in Tampa. To Karl and Hugo Rahner who tried to teach me theology in Innsbruck. To John Murphy my tertian master. To Cecil Lang who sent me to teach the Juniors and allowed me to pursue a doctorate in history in Vienna. To Ludwig Jedlicka who accepted me into the Contemporary Austrian history institute and Karl Haas who put my dissertation into good German. To Austrian provincial Johann Pilz who allowed me to study in the Austrian province. To Tom Clancy who assigned me to teach history for six years at Spring Hill College and allowed me to transfer to Loyola University to teach for ca. 40 years. To Henry Montecino who welcomed me into the Loyola Jesuit community. To Robert Preston who recruited me for Loyola. To Robert Ratchford who made me assistant dean of Arts and Sciences. To Mary Ellen Arceneaux, my secretary who told me what to do. To Bob Gerlich with whom I shared an apartment amicably for ten years. To the faculty of history for accepting me into the history department. To Joe Doyle, John Edwards, Ed Vacek and others as spiritual guides. To sundry provincials and Ron Mercier who missioned me to Grand Coteau. Most of all to the Lord Jesus who called and kept me in His Society.

– Fr. Leo Nicoll, SJ