He was born on March 7, 1919 in Winthrop, Massachusetts. His mother died at birth and he was raised by his aunt. He lived in Iowa. When he was a teenager he moved back to Boston. He attended Boston Latin High School. Late in his teenage years he went to the Passionist Preparatory School – Holy Cross, in Dunkirk, New York. He was professed a Passionist on August 15, 1942. After philosophy and theology in the various Passionist monasteries, he was ordained on May 4, 1949. After Sacred Eloquence he did some preaching and was appointed Vice-Master of Novices. Then he was appointed Director of Students. Later he became associated with Father Fidelis Rice, C.P. who led the Province of St. Paul of the Cross in the development of the radio and television apostolate in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
In 1958 he was a member of the Passionist mission to the Philippines. He and three other Passionists were the first to arrive in December of 1958. Father Nolan was the first priest to be assigned to care for the Bila-an and T’Boli people of South Cotabato, Mindinao, Philippines. These tribes had changed their life little in four hundred years. The area was almost the size of the whole state of Connecticut. For ten years he lived with the people of the area and attempted to assist them in farm production. With the aid of Catholic Relief Services he accomplished much. He developed a school and chapel. The people of the area became less nomadic and over time began to settle down. They began to learn other languages. About 90% of the people battled tuberculosis. Students began to show improvement of skills over time. Father Nolan learned the Bila-an language.
He covered his territory by jeep. As a pastor he had to face the issue of polygamy which meant a long time education process for new Bila-ans contemplating baptism. With the T’Boli he opened the first school at Lake Sebu and this was the genesis of the Santa Cruz Mission. He often worked at the expense of his own health. After Vatican II (1962-1965) Father Nolan used radio to get the message of the Gospel out to the people. He set up radio station DXCP at Dadiangas, General Santos City, Philippines. This station was under the ultimate responsibility of Bishop Quentin Olwell, C.P. of Marbel. He raised money from foundations and friends in the United States. He could reach over 600,000 people. He used the local dialects: Illongo, Visayan, Ilocano, Tagalog and Bila-an. After eleven years of operation he turned the radio station over to the diocese so as to have local clergy make more of an impact. Then for two years Father Nolan was vocation director for the Passionists in the Philippines. In 1983 he was asked to take charge of the retreats at Holy Cross Spiritual Center, Calumpang. Next he battled hepatitis and the doctors suggested he go to Manila. He went and got enough care to return back to Calumpang where he worked in the retreat house and served the poor whom he met. He then had problems with his eyes and was sent to Boston, Massachusetts and was able to recover. Once again he returned to the Philippines and back to Calumpang where he was stricken by a virus and chest pains as well. He died on October 14, 1985 and was waked by the people of Bolul. He was buried at Calumpang.