Father Nicholas Polichnowski was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He entered the Third Order Regular Franciscans, Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Loretto, Pennsylvania, on January 5, 1973, and made his solemn profession of vows on June 1, 1977. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Third Order Regular on October 15, 1977. Father Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Science from West Virginia University; a Master in Divinity from Saint Francis Seminary, Pennsylvania; a Master of Science in Chemistry from Saint Joseph University, Pennsylvania; and a Ph.D. in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. He has served as Provincial Councilor and Vicar Provincial for the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on December 16, 2011, was elected Minister Provincial of the Province.
At the 111th General Chapter which was held in Gaming, Austria, he was elected Minister General on May 23, 2013.
A majority of his apostolic work has been spent in education, both secondary and higher education. He was stationed in the United States, Brazil and the Republic of South Africa.