A Mémoire of the Very Reverend Canon John Gunn 1932 – 2023

by Michael Doyle, parishioner of St Mary the Mount in Walsall

On Tuesday 27th June 2023 I attended the funeral Mass of Canon John Gunn at Saint Ambrose Barlow, Roman Catholic Church, Hall Green, Birmingham. I went with fellow Mount parishioner John Heavin. Father Jobin, parish priest of Saint Mary’s The Mount, Walsall, was in attendance.

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, was the chief celebrant, plus Auxiliary Bishop, the Right Reverend David Evans, Father Paul Johnson, parish priest of Saint Ambrose Barlow and 60 fellow priests from across the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The service was a very moving one; with a Church full of parishioners who were present to pay respect to their late beloved parish priest of 36 years.

I had known John Gunn all my life, living in Glebe Street, which was next to The Mount Church. This was the Church where The Venerable Ignatius Spencer started his Catholic mission in 1832.

John came from a devout Catholic family who were dedicated to Holy Mother Church. Glebe Street in the 1950s was 85% Catholic, and with the Angelus Clock situated on the roof of the Infant School, which chimed in the traditional way, one could have been in Catholic Europe. This was the environment which helped to develop John’s spirituality and priestly vocation.

John was M.C. at The Mount for many years before he started training for the priesthood. He taught John Heavin and myself how to serve at the altar, including Latin which was required before Vatican II.

In 1961, the then Father Michael Fitzgerald, now Cardinal, celebrated his first Mass at The Mount. John was M.C. and his cousin Michael Gunn (who was at the funeral), John Heavin and myself were serving on the altar. None of us thought at the time that Father Michael would become a Cardinal.

On March 16th 2023, John Heavin and myself visited Canon John at Saint Joseph’s Home in Harborne. He was on fine form and served us tea. He spoke warmly of his time at The Mount, as M.C. and the friends he made and friends who had gone to The Lord.

John was a very kind person, full of compassion and he always had an aura of tranquility and peace. It was indeed a great honour to have known someone who walked with The Lord. He leaves the Earth a better place by his example of kindness to others.

Notice of Death