Benedictine Father Kieran Nolan, 85, died Dec. 30 in the retirement center at St. John’s Abbey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, in St. John’s Abbey and University Church with interment in abbey cemetery.
Father Kieran (Peter) Nolan was born Aug, 20, 1933, to Michael and Anne Marie (Connolly) Nolan in Bronx, New York. He attended Our Lady of the Assumption Parish School and then enrolled at Cathedral College High School in Manhattan.
Nolan graduated from St. John’s University in 1956. Taking the monastic name of Kieran, he professed his first vows July 11, 1954, with solemn profession in 1957 and was ordained Sept. 19, 1959. He completed a doctorate in moral theology at the University of Munich in Germany in 1963.
Father Nolan began teaching, which included theology and divinity courses at St. John’s University and at St. John’s School of Theology. In 1972 he was appointed director of campus ministry at St. John’s University and pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Collegeville. Later he became rector and dean of St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary. Upon completion of those positions, Father Nolan was appointed subprior of St. John’s Abbey.
In 1986, Father Nolan became a member of St. Anselm’s Priory and Parish in the Meguro district of Tokyo, Japan. In March 1988, he was appointed prior of the community. During this time the monks moved from the inner city of Tokyo to Fujimi. The newly relocated monastery was renamed Trinity Benedictine Monastery in November 1999.
Father Nolan played a pivotal role in conceiving and initiating what was to become the permanent diaconate program of the U.S. bishops conference, Washington, D.C. The first workshop for candidates was held at St. John’s in August 1969, with the program getting off the ground that fall. It was the first of its kind in the country, and Father Nolan served as its first director. In 2009, the 40th anniversary was celebrated for the first permanent diaconate program at St. John’s, highlighting Father Nolan’s central role.
He is survived by two sisters, Rita Olsson and Mary Jeanine Nolan, and three brothers, Augustine, Matthew, and Bernard; and the community at St. John’s Abbey.