Father Thomas F. Nolan, MM

Born: February 10, 2008
Ordained: June 17, 1934
Died: August 31, 1986

Father Thomas F. Nolan died on August 31st at St. Teresa’s, around 8:00 a.m. He was 78 years old.

The opening Psalm for the Liturgy of the day reads: “I call to you all day long, have mercy on me, O Lord. You are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call to you.” Fr. Nolan was a man who called on the Lord during all of his life. He was a faithful, hard-working and loyal Maryknoller and missioner.

Father Tom was born in New York City on February 10, 1908. He was only 14 as a student of St. Augustine’s Parish in the Bronx when he wrote to Maryknoll seeking admission. In a small autobiography he wrote: “As I look back over my earlier years I cannot recall that at any time I ever thought seriously of any other work in life but the priesthood. To what station in God’s priesthood I belonged did not trouble me; my one ambition was to be a priest. But, partly by the example of my two cousins, the Hannon brothers, and partly through reading the Maryknoll Junior, by the time I was ready for graduation from grammar school my heart was set on the foreign missions and my one wish on leaving school was to be able to start my high school career at the Venard. I entered the Venard on January 6, 1922.”

Father Nolan was ordained on June 17, 1934, and assigned to work in the Prelature of Peng Yang, Korea. He served the Society and the Church in various ways over the years. Some of his tasks were: Military Chaplain, Development work, Spiritual Director, Novice Master, Consultor to the Regional in Hawaii, Vice Chancellor and Chancellor of the Honolulu Diocese, parish priest, etc.

In whatever task he undertook it was with whole-heartedness. Through the years his superiors were unanimous in their evaluations: “Father is a good example of a perfectly balanced, mature priest, hard common sense and wisdom. Generous to a fault, he is kind and looks for both sides of a question; yet has ability to argue his point of view. He can make up his mind and follow it through. A good influence on all that makes for a good spirit in the house.”

In 1975 he received the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Medal with the following citation:

For meritorious service as Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese of Honolulu from October, 1965 to the present, a period of ten years. The superb performance of Father Nolan during this period, significantly contributed to the morale, the spiritual care and the progress of the Military Chaplains assigned to various commands in the Diocese. The exceptional leadership, the managerial ability, and the professional knowledge which he displayed in carrying out his demanding duties were recognized and widely respected throughout the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. His untiring efforts, perceptive judgment, effectiveness and total devotion to duty, reflected credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. In acknowledgement of and appreciation for outstanding service to the members of our military family, the Cardinal Cooke Award is presented to Rev. Thomas F. Nolan. – May, 1975. Signed,Card.Terrence Cardinal Cooke.

1982 he was appointed Chancellor of the Honolulu Diocese and worked in spite of his aging and sometime sickly condition. It was only in May of this year that he wrote to the Superior General asking for approval to return to the States for medical purposes. He wrote: “The thought of leaving Hawaii is a very unpleasant one. I love the people and the place and I’ve been very happy with all my assignments since my arrival in 1960, but, as the Good Book says ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is Weak’ and this 78 year old bit of flesh is not getting any stronger.” He arrived at St. Teresa’s in June.

The first reading of the Mass on the day he died could be applied to Father Nolan. “My son, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved – more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” It is our prayer that Tom is with God. May he rest in peace.

Father Tom was buried at Maryknoll, N.Y. on Sept. 3, 1986. The Funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr. Vincent P. Mallon with Msgr. Robert Brown as Homilist. Fr. Larry Burns conducted the Wake Service and Fr. John Corcoran preside at the graveside.