Memorable Manitobans: John J. Pungente (1939-2023)

Cleric, educator, author.

Born at Port Arthur [now Thunder Bay], Ontario in 1939, son of John Pungente (1912-2001) and Mary Wikien, his childhood was spent at Brandon. He entered the Jesuit religious order in 1957 and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1971. He taught at St. Paul's High School and served as its Principal (1977-1983). During this time, he was Chairman of the Manitoba Film Classification Board (1972-1976). In 1985, he moved to Toronto, Ontario to become Director of the Jesuit Communication Project, a role that he held for the next 34 years.

He wrote Media Literacy: A Resource Guide (1989), Meet the Media (1990), Scanning Television (1996), 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). In 1997, he created and hosted the television program Scanning the Movies and produced the video A Heart to Understand. He was President of the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations. In 2018, he began editing the Jesuit blog IgNation.

In March 2023, a “credible accusation of inappropriate conduct with a student” brought to light by the Jesuits of Canada led to his photograph at St. Paul's High School being removed from display.

He died at Pickering, Ontario on 6 December 2023 and was buried in the Jesuit cemetery at Guelph, Ontario.

See also:

A Leap in the Dark: The Transition from Film Censorship to Classification in Manitoba, 1970-72 by James M. Skinner
Manitoba History, Number 25, Spring 1993

Sources:

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 16 December 2023.

We thank Samantha Eadie (St. Paul's High School) for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 May 2024

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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