William Nolan was born on 26th January 1954, the fourth of eleven children born to William and Catherine Nolan (both deceased). He was baptised in St Patrick’s Church, Craigneuk and educated at Cathedral Primary School in Motherwell, St Patrick’s Primary, Craigneuk, St Vincent’s College, Langbank (1965-67), and St Mary’s College, Blairs (1967-71). His senior seminary formation was at the Scots College, Rome (1971-78) where he graduated with a Licence in Sacred Theology.
Father Nolan was ordained priest for the Diocese of Motherwell on 30th June 1977. He has ministered as assistant priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, East Kilbride, 1978-1980; assistant priest of St David’s, Plains, 1980-1983; vice-rector of the Scots College, Rome, 1983-1990; assistant priest of St Bridget’s, Baillieston, 1990-1994; parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, East Kilbride, 1994 to February 2015. He has held the posts of chairman of the Council of Priests, 1992-1998; chairman of the Committee for Ongoing Formation of Priests, 1993-2004; administrator, St John Ogilvie, Vicar General of Motherwell Diocese, June 2014 to February 2015.
Bishop Nolan was nominated as Bishop of Galloway on 22nd November 2014 by Pope Francis, and Ordained in the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock on 14th February 2015 by Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh.
The See of Whithorn is associated from the late fourth century with Saint Ninian but it is possible a Christian community existed there before his arrival. There was a continuous succession of bishops in the eighth century. The See was revived circa 1128 and recognised the metropolitan authority of York until 1355. It became a suffragan of St Andrew's in 1472 and of Glasgow in 1492. The See was, in effect, vacant from the death of Andrew Drurie (1541-1558) since his sucessor, Alexander Gordon, conformed at the Reformation in 1560, and it remained vacant until the restoration of the hierarchy in 1878.