Where Are They Now?

Father Patrick Nolan, SJ


Zain Khan ‘24, Editor

Many recall the name Father Nolan, simply due to his dexterous ability to move students and faculty with his homilies. Outside of mass, however, he was a teacher, a preacher, and a reacher. That is, he reached to the sky for us until he had to depart last year. So, where is he now, and what is he up to?

What is your name, and what did you do at BC High?

My name is Father Patrick Nolan, SJ, and I worked at BC High from the Fall of 2018 until the Summer of 2022. Initially I taught 7th grade Church History in the Arrupe Division. For the next three years, I served as assistant director of enrollment and enjoyed meeting prospective students and their families as part of the admissions process. I also served as chaplain to athletics and tried to be present at the games and matches, celebrate Masses for the teams, and lead team retreats. Last year, I served as school chaplain. I had the chance to coach with the lacrosse program as well.

Now that you’ve left BCHigh, where have you gone to work? What is it like?

In Fall of 2022, I was missioned to South Africa along with seven other Jesuits from around the world to complete my last stage of Jesuit formation. St. Ignatius Loyola wanted Jesuit priests, a few years after ordination, and Jesuit brothers, a few years after studies and/or ministry, to stop what they were doing and to go back to the basics. This “school of heart” called tertianship was meant to be like the third year of the novitiate — picking up from the first two years of Jesuit life when you learn the basics of prayer, ministry, and Jesuit history. Much like my first two years as a Jesuit during the past year, I made the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, a silent retreat in which I imagined myself as a disciple of Jesus following him along his path that we read about in the Gospels. Then we took classes on Jesuit life, spirituality, and history. Finally, I was sent to work in an inner-city parish in Johannesburg to celebrate daily Mass, hear confessions, visit with teachers and students and say Mass at local schools, and lead a Bible study and help at a soup kitchen for folks living on the streets. After these six months, I feel even more energized for my next mission which will be to serve as Director of Campus Ministry and Ignatian Identity at Gonzaga College High School in Washington DC, another Jesuit school just blocks away from the Capitol.

Why did you end up going there?

In addition to our vows of poverty and chastity, Jesuits have a vow of obedience to listen to our superiors and be available for new missions. We trust that our superiors from the Pope to our Superior General in Rome to our Provincial Superior, who leads all of the Jesuits on the East Coast, to Fr. Croghan here at BC High, will know how to best mission us and care for us so that we can serve the greatest good for the greater glory of God (AMDG). After some conversations with my provincial superior, he missioned me to Gonzaga College High School. While I am sad to leave Boston, I am happy to still be working at a Jesuit high school on the east coast.

What is your most memorable experience so far?

I haven’t arrived yet to my new assignment, but my most memorable experience in South Africa happened in Johannesburg. Every Monday night at 5pm at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, we would host a Bible study for folks living on the streets. I was always amazed by their knowledge of the Bible and their insights. The people were from all over Africa, and I started to bring along a little piece of paper to record their comments and questions for future homilies. Each Monday after reading the scriptures, we would give out big pieces of coarse wheat bread and cups of soup. One particular Monday, there were a bunch of folks — more than usual — at the bread line. We had to start breaking the pieces of bread in half so that everyone could have something to eat. I couldn’t help thinking about the Mass with our readings and our sharing of the Eucharist, especially since each person coming forward received the bread with open palms. I felt like I was one of the disciples at Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. That image and the beautiful singing of the student choirs at the schools I visited have stuck with me.

What’s the best memory you have from your time at BC High?

I have a lot of gratitude for being missioned to BC High as my first assignment as a priest. A ton of memories from Morrissey Blvd. flooded back to me during my 30-day silent retreat. One fun memory, and also probably a miracle, was sinking a half-court shot during Senior Night in McNeice in 2019. I loved teaching, of course, and being part of such a faithful, dedicated faculty and staff. Coaching freshman lacrosse with Mr. Kline and celebrating finally getting a tie in our last game against CM was awesome. I guess my favorite moments were related to something that most teachers experience each day at BC High. When teaching or celebrating Mass or having a conversation with a student, the best feeling was seeing students’ eyes — seeing how students were fully engaged, soaking everything up. There is no better feeling for a teacher or a priest. The best part of being at BC High is to see students who are soaking up every part of the experience, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. It reminds me of the quote of St. Irenaeus: “the glory of God is man fully alive.”