Obituary: Father Peter P. Nolan, Holy Ghost Father, served in archdiocese for decades
Father Peter P. Nolan, CSSp., an Irish-born missionary to Nigeria, a priest serving in the archdiocese since 1982, and an inveterate Irishman, died at Regina Cleri in Boston on March 14, 2023.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, he was the eldest of the six children of the late Patrick and Mary (Gorevan) Nolan. Raised in a staunchly Catholic family, he was educated by the Sisters of Charity, the Irish Christian Brothers, and the Holy Ghost Fathers, now known more familiarly as the Spiritans. The Spiritans were the prime influence on Father Nolan's vocational decision as he was especially enthusiastic about their missionary activity.
He entered the Holy Ghost Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in Dublin on July 12, 1959, by the indomitable Archbishop John McQuaid. After a brief stint teaching at the seminary in Ireland, he was assigned to the Spiritans mission in Onitsha, Nigeria. During eight years in Nigeria, he had the experience of the rapid growth of the Catholic faith, the jump in numbers of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the sadness of the Biafran War. With the expulsion of all missionaries in 1970, he returned to Ireland as pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Cabra. In 1972, he went back to Africa, this time to Ghana, and stayed there for nine years.
He enjoyed a sabbatical at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1981, and in 1982, he came to the archdiocese and began 15 years as parochial vicar at St. Theresa of Avila in West Roxbury. He was additionally the unofficial chaplain of all things Irish in the archdiocese. If there was an Irish-sponsored or related event in the area, he would be there.
In 1997, Cardinal Bernard Law named him pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park; later, two neighboring parishes were added to his pastoral care: St. Anne, Readville, and St. Pius Tenth, Milton.
He was well liked by his parishioners and was readily available when they called. He retired from the parish in 2014 and returned to residence at St. Theresa, West Roxbury, and later at Good Shepherd, Wayland, before entering Regina Cleri, Boston.
Father Nolan's funeral was celebrated at St. Theresa of Avila Church on March 24, 2023. Cardinal O'Malley was scheduled to be the principal celebrant of the funeral Mass. Father Nolan will be buried in his native Ireland.