CJI mourns the passing of Fr Henry P. Nunn SJ, who died at the age of 86 in Bangalore, India, on 31 July, the Feast Day of St. Ignatius.
“Hank,” as he was known to his friends, entered the Jesuits in August 1951 after graduating from St. Mary’s University in Halifax. In 1955 he began studies in philosophy in Montreal with the French-speaking Jesuits. He then taught for three years in Ethiopia at Tafari Makonen, the Jesuit-run school in Addis Ababa.
Fr Nunn went to India in 1960 to teach in Jesuit schools. He remained in the Darjeeling District for the next 14 years. After studying Hindi, he began theological studies. He was ordained in 1964 at St. Mary’s College in Kurseong. Hank continued teaching in the Darjeeling area, at St. Alphonsus School in Kurseong, and at St. Joseph’s College, North Point, where he also served as principal for five years. In 1977, he left Darjeeling and went to Bangalore in southern India as a retreat director and to continue teaching.
Fr Nunn is perhaps best known for his work as co-founder of a centre treating young people who suffer from serious mental disorders. In 1979, under his leadership, he invited a group of international psychotherapists to establish a community in Bangalore for the treatment of schizophrenia. He began first as a psychology teacher and counsellor, and later in 1997 as director of the Athma Shakti Vidyalaya Society (ASV), a unique therapeutic community. At ASV, patients learn through holistic psychotherapy supervision to recognize, develop and use their own skills instead of being dependent on medication for the treatment of schizophrenia. Over the years the centre enabled 40% of the young adults to return to normal life, while another 40% showed marked improvement in their ability to function.
In 2013, Fr. Nunn was recognized by The Times of India as a Bangalore hero. The same year he published a book entitled Opening to Trust about his life helping people with mental health challenges.
Fr Nunn’s good works in the service of God will live on. We express our condolences to his family and friends, and remember him in our prayers.
Fr Hank Nunn is predeceased by his parents Thomas and Agnes Nunn; by two brothers, Basil and Joseph; and two sisters, Margaret Beck and Marie Reardon of Halifax. He is survived by one sister, Frances Moriarty of Shad Bay, Nova Scotia.