Mercy Sister Grace Nolan, 97, formerly Sister Mary Trinita, a former teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes School, Milltown’ and Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, died April 1 at McAuley Hall Health Care Center, also Watchung.
Sister Grace was the sixth of seven children born to Louis and Frances Nolan in Trenton. Her father, a grocer, was an active member of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul chapter in Trenton. As a child, she would accompany him when he loaded his truck and delivered food to families in need. It was from him that she absorbed a devotion to those who experienced poverty.
In later years, when she lived and ad vocated for those who were poor in Atlantic City, she was widely known simply as Sister Grace.
She was educated by the Sisters of Mercy at St. Mary School and at Cathedral High School in Trenton. She was attracted to religious life but spent 10 years as a secretary with General Motors before entering the community in 1946. She earned a degree in elementary educaiton at Georgian Court College, now University, Lakewood, and began teaching at Mount St. Mary Academy in 1948. Her teaching assignments also included Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Atlantic City; and St. John School, Paulsboro.
She was named principal at St. John School, Collingswood, in 1960 and then at Holy Spirit School, Atlantic City, where she was both teacher and principal. For the Diocese of Camden, she was appointed administrator snd coordinator of the
Atlantic City office of Catholic Social Services, which began 41 years of service to the poor, sick and troubled. As coordinator of family services, she provided case management, emergency financial aid and crisis pregnancy aid. Always with a smile, she brought care and services to more than 8,000 families and individuals. She received many honors, inlcuding Atlantic City Women’s Hall of Fame; the Pro Ecclesia Pontifice Papal Medal; Proclaimer of Life Award and the St. Vincent DePaul Award from the Diocese of Camden. She was the only woman ever to receive the Outstanding Man of the Year award from the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. In 2004, Catholic Charities established the Grace Nolan Award for Social Ministry in her honor. In 2011, she retired to McAuley Hall Health Care Center. Sister Grace is survived by many nieces, nephews, Sisters of Mercy and a remarkable group of loving and grateful friends.
A funeral Mass was celebrated for Sister Grace April 5 at Mount Saint Mary Chapel. Burial was at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Trenton. Arrangements were handled by Higgins Home for Funerals. Memorial donations may be made to Our Lady Star of the Sea School, 15 North California Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08041.