Fr. John Pungente died peacefully on December 6 at Rene Goupil House. He was in his 84th year and had been a Jesuit for 66 years. He was born in 1939 at Port Arthur, Ontario, but his early life was spent in Brandon, Manitoba, where his father was involved with a cinema theatre. He was the son of John Pungente and Mary Wikien. John entered the novitiate at Guelph on 14 August 1957. After first vows in 1959, he completed the juniorate and then went in 1961 for philosophy at Mount St Michael’s in Spokane, Wa. Three years later John returned to Winnipeg to St Paul’s High School, teaching Elocution, English and Latin. and was moderator of the Film Club and the Crusader Yearbook. In 1967 he spent a year at San Francisco State College studying film. Theology took place in 1968 at Regis College and he was ordained at St John Brebeuf Parish, Winnipeg in 1971. Right after he again journeyed to Winnipeg to St Paul’s High School, as teacher, then chairman of the Manitoba Film Board, and in 1976 was appointed Principal of the high school, a post he held for seven years. This was followed by two years at the Jesuit Communication Centre in London, England, for further study and pastoral ministry.
John’s longest posting was in 1985 as Director of the Jesuit Communication Project, Toronto, a post he held for the next thirty-four years. During those years he co-authored Media Literacy: A Resource Guide (1989), Meet the Media (1990), More than Meets the Eye: Watching TV Watching Us (1999) and Finding God in the Dark: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Go To The Movies (2004), with Fr Monty Williams. John was creator and host of the award-winning Bravo! television show—Scanning the Movies—which premiered in 1997. He was the producer of the award-winning video A Heart to Understand, and the 1996 award winning teaching kit, Scanning Television. He was also president of the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations (CAMEO).
He moved in 2018 to Lourdes Parish, Toronto, doing pastoral ministry and editing the online Province IgNation blog. In early 2022, in diminishing health, he moved to La Storta Jesuit Community and subsequently to René Goupil Residence in Pickering.