November 7, 2008

New Albany doctor’s mission work, faith touched people near and far

Archdiocesan 175th anniversary logo(Editor’s note: To help mark the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, The Criterion is inviting readers to share stories and memories of how their Catholic faith and the Church in central and southern Indiana have shaped their lives. Today, we feature a story from Cynthia Schultz, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.)

“Dr. Jim Nolan was a legend, a humanitarian. The retired New Albany optometrist was known across Indiana for his mission work in Honduras, where he touched thousands on the 50 trips he took with his beloved wife.

“Doc’s Catholic faith was at the core of all he did. With his wife, he began each day with Mass and ended it with a rosary.

“He was one of my mentors, and now he is gone. His recent passing at 86 has left a hole in my heart, but my memories remain strong.

“Twenty years ago, I was privileged to travel with the Nolans to the jungles of Central America where he, along with others, brought eye care to Indian tribes and soldiers at an isolated Army outpost.

“I witnessed Doc’s passion for the poor and how, with his engaging smile, he treated everyone with the same respect, from peasant to government official.

“Doc helped me grow as a Christian. He paved the way for me to go on two mission trips to Honduras.

“It was difficult for me to leave my family behind, face my fear of flying and travel to an unfamiliar place. But God’s call to me was strong.

“Through Doc, I learned the importance of being obedient when God tugs at your heart to do something in his name, to face fear and have complete trust in him. Doc was a saint among us. He changed my life.”

(If you have a story or a memory to share, we would love to receive them. Please send your story to The Criterion, P.O. Box 1400, Indianapolis, IN 46206. Or you can e-mail your story to Please include the words “Anniversary Story” on the envelope or in the e-mail heading. We ask that you try to keep your story at 250 words or less.)

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