Catholic 08

Sister Nancy Nolan

May 13, 1936 ~ December 20, 2020 (age 84)


SAINT MARY-OF-THE-WOODS - Sister Nancy Nolan died on Dec. 20, 2020, in Mother Theodore Hall, St. Mary-of-the-Woods. She was born on May 13, 1936 in Galesburg, IL, to Paul and Helena Cofield Nolan and was baptized Nancy Irene.
Sister Nancy entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence on Feb. 2, 1955 and received the name Sister Jean Paula. She professed Final Vows on Aug. 15, 1962. She earned a bachelor's degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and master's degrees from the University of Illinois and Loyola University, Chicago.
In her 66 years as a Sister of Providence, she ministered in education for 12 years in elementary schools in Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma. Her administrative skills being evident, she was elected provincial of St. Joseph Province in Illinois in 1975, a position she held for eight years. She then gave a year of service as Associate Executive Secretary for the Federation of Asian Bishops in Taiwan.
Returning to the United States, she served as associate administrator and director of religious education for St. Ann Parish in Terre Haute for a year. It was then that she was elected general superior of the Congregation, holding that office from 1986 to 1996. Following this, she served for two years as programs director for the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago and then president of Mother Theodore Guerin High School in River Grove, IL, for ten years. She then officially "retired" and moving to Terre Haute in 2011, she served as Vocation Office Coordinator and later prayer request coordinator for Mission Advancement. She also coordinated the SP volunteer ministry for the U.S. Penitentiary Prison Camp in Terre Haute.
It was while Sister Nancy was general superior that a postulator was appointed to move forward Mother Theodore Guerin's cause for canonization. Also during this time, the congregation celebrated its sesquicentennial and worked to develop a deeper understanding of Providence Spirituality.
Sister Nancy brought a gentle and caring presence to all her positions. She also brought a great sense of humor and wonderful communication skills. A true daughter of Mother Theodore, she met difficulties, even her own diminishment, with a trust in Providence.
Sister Nancy is survived by a brother, John Nolan; and two sisters, Sister Carol Nolan, SP, and Sister Lucille Nolan, SP; as well as nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. She is preceded in death by a brother, Daniel Nolan.
Due to the restrictions on group meetings, her wake and funeral are not open to the public. Burial is in the cemetery of the Sisters of Providence on Dec. 28. DeBaun Funeral Homes and Crematory assisted with arrangements. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Providence, 1 Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN 47876. One may share or read memories of Sr. Nancy on the Sisters of Providence web page at:

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