Priest Defrocked; Had Served in NH

By Mark Hayward
Manchester Union Leader [New Hampshire]
January 27, 2007

John Nolin, once a New Hampshire priest who provided a home to two paramours and their families, was defrocked in November by Pope Benedict XVI, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

The diocese announced the action yesterday and said Nolin is no longer bound by the obligations of the priesthood and is returned to the lay state. He had been stripped of permission to function as a priest in June 1994.

Nolin, who is 73, no longer lives in New Hampshire, the diocese said in a two-paragraph statement. A spokesman would not say where Nolin lives and said he would not comment beyond the statement.

Nolin was never charged with any crimes because allegations fell outside the statute of limitations, said William Delker, a senior assistant attorney general who oversaw the investigation into the priest-sex scandal.

The last Delker knew, Nolin was living in New Mexico with a woman.

A Keene native, Nolin was ordained in May 1960 and served in 10 mostly rural parishes before resigning as pastor of the church in Woodsville in 1994. At the time, diocesan Chancellor Francis Christian forced Nolin into an early retirement, according to diocesan files that were turned over to the New Hampshire attorney general.

The files are available at

The early retirement took place after a family came forward and said Nolin had been involved with their mother for 13 years. The relationship ended in 1978. The family, including three children and a heavy-drinking father, had moved into a house that Nolin owned in Keene, and the priest made frequent trips to the house for liaisons with the mother, the siblings said.

A daughter said Nolin inappropriately touched her as she feigned sleep when she was 12 or 13 years old. Nolin denied the inappropriate contact with the girl, but he acknowledged the relationship with the mother and "several sexual relationships with other women over the years," Christian wrote.

One involved a relationship in 1980 with a divorced woman who came to him with the intention of converting to Catholicism. He eventually moved the woman, her two children and her mother from Lancaster to his Keene home. That relationship lasted about two years.

When Nolin acknowledged the relationship in 1982, Christian transferred him from All Saints Parish in Lancaster, ordered him into counseling and cautioned of automatic suspension if he learned of further improprieties.

In a memo to Nolin, Christian wrote: "I also pointed out how fortunate you were that Mrs. ... had not seen fit to publicize this matter, since in that case you would certainly face suspension and even possible laicization."

In a 2002 deposition, Nolin said he was receiving $1,200 a month in retirement benefits from the diocese.

That year, Bishop John B. McCormack ordered Nolin to return to Manchester to live at the Bishop Peterson Residence.

McCormack wrote to Nolin in Albuquerque and chastised him for living with a woman. If he continued to live with her, McCormack wrote, the bishop would contact the Vatican to have him defrocked.

Nolin is the third New Hampshire priest to be defrocked by the Vatican. In 2005, diocesan officials said the Vatican was reviewing 27 cases of New Hampshire priests credibly accused of abusing minors.


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