1920 – 2015 (May 5)
James Lawrence Nolan was born on August 10, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only son among five daughters, of Michael Nolan and Margaret Concannon. James was baptized at Our Mother of Consolation Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, on August 15, 1920. He attended Our Mother of Consolation Parish School from 1926 to 1934, and Northeast Catholic High School, from 1934 to 1938. Upon graduation, he spent a year as a postulant at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, and was received into the Order as a novice on September 9, 1939. After a year at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, N.Y., he professed first vows on September 10, 1940, and attended Villanova College, from which he received his BA in Philosophy in 1943. Following profession of solemn vows on September 10, 1943, he went to Augustinian College, Washington, DC, for theological studies, and pursued courses there, as well as at the Catholic University of America. Later, in 1959, he received an MA in Religious Studies from Villanova University. Father Nolan was ordained to the priesthood on August 24, 1946, at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Church, Atlantic City, New Jersey, by Bishop Bartholomew J. Eustace.
Father Nolan was first assigned to Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pa., where he taught from 1947 to 1956. He was next appointed Master of Professed at Augustinian College, from 1956 until 1958. From 1958 to 1959, he taught at Villanova University and was a member of the Saint Thomas Monastery community. In 1959, he returned to teaching at Malvern Preparatory School, where he remained until 1965. There then began for him thirty years of ministry in parishes of the Province as well as in hospital chaplaincy: Saint Genevieve Parish, Flourtown, Pa., from 1965 to 1968; Our Mother of Consolation, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, from 1968 to 1970; Saint Augustine Parish, Philadelphia, from 1970 to 1975; Saint Laurence O'Toole Parish, Lawrence, Massachusetts, from 1975 to 1982; Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish, Bryn Mawr, Pa., from 1982 to 1985. In 1985 he returned to Saint Genevieve Parish, Flourtown, and in 1992 was assigned to Saint Denis Parish, Havertown, Pa.
In 1995, Father Nolan was assigned to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, Pa., and ministered from there as chaplain to local communities of religious sisters. He was also an eager and devoted driver for friars of the community who needed transportation to medical appointments. He remarked that his father had been a chauffeur to a family in Chestnut Hill and that he continued in his father's work by running a "taxi service" for the friars at the monastery. He reluctantly gave up this work in 2005, at the age of 85. He, nonetheless, continued as an active member of the Saint Thomas Monastery Community. In 2010, he entered the second floor Health Care Facility due to failing health. After a long, gradual, but peaceful decline, he passed over to the Lord on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, a few months shy of his 95th birthday and the 75th anniversary of religious profession.Father Nolan was a friar who cared deeply about his brothers in community, and was a generous and compassionate priest who was ever prepared to minister especially to the sick and the dying. A viewing was held on Tuesday, May 12 at Saint Thomas of Villanova Church, followed at 7:30 PM by a Mass of Christian Burial. Father Nolan is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery in Conshohocken, Pa.