Army Burn Hall College for Boys

Founding Fathers

The immense contribution of the Fathers in giving the nation genuine leaders and the truest human beings is undeniable. We owe them our most sincere and inexpressible gratitude and admiration, for being masters of winning the hearts. They reigned over the hearts of Hallians and still continue to live in our memories. Their souls are in God’s eternal peace and their reward they have received in their heavenly abode. And the story does not end here; the Mill Hill Fathers are still in the field working as the faithful servants in Pakistan and around the globe.

They are a great tool in the hand of Lord to promote interfaith harmony with their compassionate Ministry. May this grace overshadow them!:

* The Crimson Lily in our Midst, London, Mill Hill Missionaries, 2007.

A Tribute to Mill Hill Missionaries of Burn Hall

Father Herman Thijssen

When it comes to the Founding Fathers of Burn Hall, one is bound to acknowledge the services of Fr Herman Thijssen – a man of vision and commitment. He was born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, on the 1st of September 1903. He studied at Mill Hill colleges in Tilburg, Roosendaal and Mill Hill. He was ordained priest on the 17th of July 1932 in Mill Hill and appointed to Nellore, India.

Right from the beginning of his missionary work in the subcontinent he felt a dire need to educate the people, so as to help them come out of the pit of poverty and degradation. Hence, starting, managing and building schools was his special charisma. He started St. Mary’s School at Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

At that time, the Mill Hill Missionaries were running a school-cum-college at Baramulla, known as St. Joseph’s College. At the end of 1942, the college was bifurcated. One portion continued to function at Baramulla as St. Joseph’s College, whereas the boarding School was transferred to a new site in Srinagar. It was named as Burn Hall School. Acknowledging and admiring his great enthusiasm and zeal for education, Father Thijseen was appointed as the first Headmaster of Burn Hall School Srinagar and continued his services passionately till 1947. After the partition of British India, it was decided by the Fathers to evacuate the students and establish Burn Hall School in Abbottabad. Father Thijssen readily accepted to stay behind to wind up the affairs in Srinagar. Later, his steady work and courageous efforts made it possible to re-establish Burn Hall School at Abbottabad in April, 1948. His pivotal role in this regard is worthy of praise and honour.

He was blessed with the task to carry on the vision of the Mission in the field of education and as long as he stayed in Pakistan, he remained committed to the cause till his retirement to Oosterbeck, Holland in 1972. In 1979, he was transferred to Vrigland. On Sep 23, 1982, he gave up the spirit to receive the eternal rewards that awaited him beyond the grave.

Father George Shanks

Father George Shanks was an exceptional man by all standards. He had all the virtues and not a few talents – a great tool in the hand of the Lord to be served in the field of mission. He was born at Cullercoat, Whitley Bay, England on the 23rd of February 1909. He was ordained priest on the 17th of September 1933. After his ordination in 1937, he pursued further studies and took an honours degree at Durham University. He was appointed as missionary in Punjab Mission in Kashmir

In those days at Baramulla, the mission ran a Vernacular High School for the boys, an English medium boarding school and an Intermediate College. Father Shanks got appointed there. Though he hankered for village work but his talents as a teacher were considered too valuable in the college. He was endowed with charismatic qualities which made him an excellent teacher dealing passionately with his students. In 1941, Father Shanks succeeded Father Alexander Andrews as Principal of St. Joseph’s College. At the end of 1942, a portion of the school was shifted to Srinagar in a hired building. The school was renamed as Burn Hall by Father Shanks, as it was the name of his Alma Mater in England. He remained at Baramulla as the Principal of St. Joseph’s College and raised it to degree standard by 1943.

In the aftermath of the 1947 tribal invasion the Mill Hill Missionaries moved to Pakistan and established a school in Abbottabad under the Diocesan Board of Education, Rawalpindi in 1948. It was called Burn Hall School and Father Shanks was appointed Headmaster of Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. Though the responsibility was great, however, his courage, devotion and determination were equal to the task. He was the main architect and driving force behind establishing the school.

Later, after a spell of eight years, the Mill Hill Fathers returned to re-establish their Srinagar School. Father Shanks joyfully accepted this mammoth task and rendered his faithful services for the re-establishment under the management of the Catholic Diocese of Jammu and Srinagar.

His tiresome efforts in accomplishing his vision deteriorated his health. His earthly services ended on the morning of December 13, 1962. His death was a great loss for the Mission, as men like Father Shanks are born in centuries.

Father Francis Scanlon

Father Scanlon was one of the most impeccable missionaries who had served Burn Hall. His inspiring and candid personality had left long lasting imprints on the lives of Hallians. His life began in North East of England in 1914. On June 9, 1940, his priestly life started. It was God’s greatest blessing, that Father Scanlon joined the Senior Burn Hall School as Principal in 1956. He was the founding father as well as served Burn Hall School having the longest tenure as Principal. He not only administered the School single handedly but he was also an effective teacher. He used to teach literature to the students and encouraged them to read Shakespeare in their early years. He was neither harsh nor short-tempered but still every student revered him deeply.

Father Scanlon was very reserved. He commanded a crowd with his unassuming silence. He rarely spoke in public, however, whenever he rose to speak, on those rare occasions, every word had an impact. He taught his students, and all the world at large, that there are other ways of influencing the lives other than by preaching. He was very caring and sympathetic towards his many servants. He treated them all with great respect and love. No wonder, he was liked by all.

As soon as the holidays began, he used to visit Fathers and Brothers. Every one of them admired and felt his very sympathetic approach, and all would say that Father Scanlon was a thorough gentleman.

In recognition of the invaluable and selfless services of Father F. Scanlon, the College Auditorium, constructed on May 21, 2008 was named as Scanlon Hall, by the then Principal, Brig Raheel Ashraf. The Scanlon Hall houses 750 seats, with a magnificent stage, side rooms, basement, main lobby and washroom facility.

He had gone on leave from Abbottabad and met his heavenly abode on Feb 09, 1972 at the age of 58. Thus, a great man left this world but he lives in the heart of every Hallian being an epitome of kindness and compassion.

Father Nicholas Hettinga

At times one feels short of words when the stature of a man is too lofty and the words seem unable to justify the true mettle. One such person was Bishop Nicholas Hettinga; a courageous, visionary leader, who with his futuristic approach and faithful ministry served as a missionary in the true sense of the words. The long catalogue of his accomplishments manifests his profound love for humanity.

He was born on the 8th of July 1908 at Itzega, in the archdiocese of Utrecht, the Netherlands. He was educated at the Episcopal College in Roermond, and at Roosendaal and Mill Hill. He was ordained priest on 9th of July 1933 and appointed to the Punjab Mission. He laid the foundation of the Peshawar City Parish. Bishop Hettinga arrived in Rawalpindi when the partition problems were at their height. He saw that immediate action was needed to secure the safety of the children under the mission’s care. The most pressing need was the safety of the orphans at Baramulla, and of the boys at Burn Hall School, Srinagar. Bishop Hettinga brought all the orphans safely out of Kashmir. Girls were sent to St. Catherine’s Rawalpindi and boys to St. John’s Peshawar.

The boys at Burn Hall were by no means destitute. While they were at school, their parents considered them as wards of the mission. The political situation in Kashmir was so volatile that they must be moved quickly to a safer place. Bishop Hettinga at that time receiving heavenly guidance and with great concern for the children chose to move Burn Hall School to Abbottabad. It was not an easy decision but for the cause of education and the future of the children, he boldly decided and continually supported the Fathers to run it successfully. He was an inspiration for the Fathers who followed his spirit and zeal. Thus in 1948, he successfully shifted the Burn Hall School, Srinagar to Abbottabad. The staff of Burn Hall, Srinagar was transferred to the stations on the Pakistan side of the diocese. Bishop Hetinga did a lot of work for the expansion of mission work in Pakistan. At the outbreak of World War II, twelve mission stations were active. During the war, some of these had to be closed. Due to his efforts, some of these stations were reopened and some new stations were also established. He managed to persuade the authorities to expand the educational work. He also received some extra priests. The idea of opening English Medium Schools at different Muslim stations was conceived in his mind and he whole heartedly guided and supervised the establishment of quality educational institutions, some of which to this day are a source of enriching the lives with the wealth of knowledge and character. It was his guidance and supervision that made it possible to re-establish Burn Hall School, Srinagar. His motivation and positive mindset gave strength to the Mill Hill Fathers to take initiative and work devotedly for the re-establishment of the school. Eventually, the dream came true in April 1956, when Burn Hall School started. He also worked for the social development of Christian community. The Holy Family Hospital was moved to its new location in Satellite town, Rawalpindi. The Rosary Hospital in Gujrat and Fatima Hospital in Sargodha were set in operation.

The last months of his life were very difficult for him, as he became aware of his failing health. He had never imagined that there was something that could beat him in the end. He underwent a prostate operation, and very soon yet another was necessary – this time for a clot on the brain. Bishop Nicholas Hettinga was called home to be with the Lord on 26th of December 1973 at the age of 65. His grave is to one side of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Rawalpindi. He was ‘Quaid-e-Kalisia’ of the Diocese of Rawalpindi, and is revered as ‘saint’ by the people.

Father Piet de Vreede

Father Piet de Vreede was born in Pijnacker, in the Diocese of Haarlem, the Netherlands on the 6th of July, 1913. After studying in the Colleges of Tilburg, Roosendaal and Mill Hill, he was ordained priest in Mill Hill on the 11th of July, 1937 and appointed to the mission of Kafiristan and Kashmir, later the Diocese of Rawalpindi

Apart from a short period of teaching in Burn Hall, Abbottabad, he worked on the mission from 1937 till 1982 with great expertise and dedication in the pastoral field. Father De Vreede was a fluent speaker of the Punjabi Language, and was acquainted with ancient Punjabi literature. In 1963 he was elected delegate to the General Chapter. The last years that he was in the Diocese, he spent in Burn Hall School, Abbottabad, as managing the finances. In 1982, he returned for good to his native country, where he made himself useful as Archivist in Roosendaal. He returned to his old mission in 1987. Father Piet de Vreede died suddenly of a massive heart attack on the 19th of September 1987 in Rawalpindi.

Father Arnold Neyzen

Father Arnold Neyzen was born in Vinkeveen, in the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the Netherlands, on 11th of April, 1911. He studied at Tilburg, Roosendaal and Mill Hill. He was ordained on the 9th of July, 1938 and appointed to the mission in Rawalpindi. His early years were spent in Chak 36 SB and Josephabad, both villages within 30 miles of Sargodha. In 1965, he became the Principal of Junior Burn Hall School.

A severe nervous depression in 1969, forced Father Neyzen to return for good to the Netherlands and he was appointed to the college in Tilburg. He died there on the 23rd of January 1972, when he was only 60 years of age. He had been a priest for 33 years.

Father Arthur Johnson

Father Arthur Johnson was born on the 19th of September, 1917 at Darlington, Tyne and Wear, England. His father was Joseph Johnson, a clerk, and his mother was Agnes Eden. He had one brother. He was ordained on the 29th of June, 1944 and appointed to the Prefecture of Kafiristan and Kashmir. In the beginning he worked in Chak 36 S.B near Sargodha.

His last years were spent in Burn Hall School, Abbottabad where he acted as housemaster and teacher of English, and also directed plays. The School Hill, an iconic figure in the Campus was actually planted and landscaped by him. His Silver Jubilee party was celebrated in Abbottabad on the same Hill.

Acknowledging his valuable contributions, the Hill has been named after him on January 2018 (100 years of his birthday). He died in Abbottabad on the 3rd of January 1974. His grave is in the Rawalpindi cemetery.

Father Brian Clarke

Father Brian Clarke was born on the 14th of December, 1917, near Aranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland. In 1933 he went to Freshford, Co. Kilkenny to study for the Missionary Priesthood, then on to England to study Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained on the 29th of June, 1944, after which he received his appointment for the Prefecture of Kafiristan and Kashmir but was unable to get there until the Second World War had ended. In 1950, Father Brian worked in Josephabad, he worked till his appointment as Principal to St. Mary’s School Murree Road, Rawalpindi. Then he was transferred to Senior Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. He left Pakistan in the early 1970s.

Father Brian retired at Dartry House, Dublin, and at almost 90 years of age he was still able to get around, but with some difficulty. He died on the 25th of June, 2008 in St. James’ Hospital, Dublin.

Father John Boerkamp

Father John Boerkamp was born in Duistervoorde, Twello, in the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the Netherlands on the 29th of August, 1906. He studied in the Colleges of Tilburg, Roosendaal and Mill Hill. He was ordained priest on the 12th of July, 1936 and appointed to the teaching staff of Tilburg College. In 1946, he was appointed to Rawalpindi, North India.

He was posted at Baramulla as a missionary while being simultaneously designated as Vicar General for Kashmir until Kashmir became an independent Prefecture in 1952. In addition, he was also appointed as Mission Superior of Kashmir. Father Boerkamp was Principal of the Senior Cambridge School, during Partition. But afterwards he came back for a short time at Abbottabad in Burn Hall School, when the Srinagar Burn Hall School had to be transferred there.

Father Boerkamp, along with Fr. Scanlon and Mallet assisted Father Thijssen to open new Burn Hall School in Abbottabad. In 1983, he eventually retired to his native country, in Vrijland. He had a heart operation on the 22nd January, 1984 and died on the 5th February in St. Josef Ziekenhuis, at the age of 77 years.

Father Matthew Geybels

Father Matthew Geybels was born to Henry and Joanna (Halfers) Geybels on the 25th of January, 1922, at Weert in the diocese of Roermond, the Netherlands. He had five brothers and one sister. He pursued his secondary education, between 1935 and 1941, at the Mill Hill minor seminaries at Tilburg and Haelen. He completed his Theology at Mill Hill and was ordained priest there by Cardinal Griffin on the 6th of July, 1947. Father Geybels was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He taught in the Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. He also was asked to do B.A at the University of Punjab, after which he was appointed as Principal of St. John’s School in Peshawar. After eighteen years in Pakistan, he was recalled to the Netherlands and took up organizing work at Haelen. Father Geybels again came to Rawalpindi and remained there till 1987, in-spite of the strain of ill health that brought him to the Dutch Region. His extensive knowledge of Islam and his commitment to the Muslim-Christian dialogue equipped him to teach at the Theological Faculty of the University of Tilburg between 1988 and 1991. From the beginning of 2003, he had problems with his health and was admitted several times in hospital. On Friday, June the 27th he had a serious heart operation followed by two more. He died in the afternoon of Monday July the 7th 2003, His Requiem and burial took place on Friday, July the 11th at Vrijland Oosterbeek.

Father Jan Klaver

Father Jan Klaver was born on the 1st January, 1916 in Wijde Wormer, near Purmerend, the Netherlands. He had seven brothers and three sisters. He studied Philosophy in Roosendaal from 1934 till 1936. On the 15th of September, 1936 he went to Mill Hill to study Theology. In 1950, after ten years in Hoorn he was appointed to Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where he worked for the next forty years, mainly in education, in places like Abbottabad, Kharian and Peshawar. He was the last Mill Hill Principal of the Senior Burn Hall School, Abbottabad after the demise of Father Scanlon. He remained Principal till it was handed over to the Army in 1976/77. In 1990 he was recalled from Pakistan to the Dutch region for retirement in St. Jozefhuis. Father Jan Klaver died on the 2nd of March 1998 at the age of 82 years.

Father Norbert Turner

Father Norbert Turner was born on the 29th of March, 1917 in Colne, Lancashire, England. He was ordained a Mill Hill Missionary priest on the 9th of July, 1950. After his ordination, he did some further studies and was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Father Turner acted as a teacher and House Master in the Senior Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. In 1971, Father Turner was appointed to Bishop’s House, Rawalpindi as Vicar General and archivist. He retired from the Diocese of Rawalpindi in 1977, and returned to his native land. In 1988, he retired from active service. Father Norbert Turner died on the 15th of May, 1992. He had suffered most of his life from asthma. He was a most noble man.

Father Jan Schrader

Father Jan Schrader was one of seven children born to Anton and Gertrude (Nijhuis) Schrader. He was born on 25th of September, 1926 at De Lutte in the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the Netherlands. At the age of fourteen, Jan was accepted as a student in Mill Hill minor seminary at Tilburg, from where he was moved to Haelen in 1944 to complete his secondary education. He studied Philosophy in Roosendaal from 1946 until 1948 and then went to Mill Hill for his Theology studies from 1948 to 1952. He took his Perpetual Oath on the 5th of May 1951 at Mill Hill, and was ordained to the Priesthood on the 13th of July 1952. After his ordination, Father Jan Schrader was appointed to the Rawalpindi Diocese in Pakistan.

Father Jac Copray

Father Jac Copray from Holland was born on the 5th of April, 1927. He was ordained at Mill Hill, on the 13th of July, 1952. After ordination he was appointed to the staff of St. Joseph’s College, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. From there he was transferred to Freshfield, England. After that he was asked to go to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where he was appointed to the teaching staff of St. Mary’s, Murree Road, Rawalpindi. He worked there till his appointment as Principal to St. Edmund’s School, Bannu. In 1964, Father Jac became Principal of Junior Burn Hall School, Abbottabad, where he stayed till the school was handed over to the Army. He was then assigned as Principal to St. Mary’s, Murree Road, Rawalpindi. In the late 1970s, he returned to Holland, and became the Bursar of the Dutch Region, a post he held till he retired to Vrijland

Father Herman Hermans

Father Herman Hermans was born in Holland on the 31st of December, 1924. He received his education at the Mill Hill Colleges in Holland and England, and was ordained on the 10th of July, 1949. Father Herman’s first appointment was for higher studies in Holland, then he was on the organizing staff of the Mill Hill College in Haelen. In 1955, he was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan for one term only, and was assigned to Burn Hall School in Abbottabad. He then returned to Holland and was on the staff of the Mill Hill College, in Tilburg

Father James van Schagen

Father James van Schagan was one of the famous clergymen among his contemporary. He studied in Mill Hill where he was the classmate of some great people like Bishop de Wit and Bishop Mahon. After his ordination in Roosendaal, Holland on 14th of July, 1946, Father Jac was sent to Burn Hall College, Durham, England. Many of the students whom he taught became seasoned missionaries, and no doubt, remembered him with affection. In 1953, he went to Cambridge for further studies before his appointment in 1956 to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Father Jac spent the greater part of his missionary life in Burn Hall School, Abbottabad, as a Teacher, House Master and Principal. When Father Francis Scanlon died, Father Jac was appointed to succeed him as Principal of Senior Burn Hall. He was also appointed as Principal of St. Mary’s Cambridge School. In 1972, he had to relinquish school work and went to Islamabad as parish priest. In January 1974, he returned to Holland on sick leave. Those who visited him during the last three years of his illness, before he went to God on the 24th of December 1976, at the age of 55, will never forget the magnificent character of this priesthood throughout his suffering and pain

Father William Naylor

Father William Naylor was one of the five children of William and Lily (Oakes) Naylor, three boys and two girls. He was born at St. Helen’s in the diocese of Liverpool on the 30th of March 1933. When he was sixteen he went to the college in Burn Hall where he obtained his Higher School Certificate in 1950. In that same year he went to Roosendaal in the Netherlands for his Philosophy studies and proceeded, two years later to Mill Hill to study Theology. He took his Perpetual Missionary Oath on the 6th of May, 1955, and was ordained priest by Bishop Craven at St. Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London on the 8th of July, 1956. In 1959, he was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. From then until 1965 he taught at Burn Hall in Abbottabad and St. Mary’s in Rawalpindi. He died on the 7th of November, 2003, and was buried in the cemetery at Herbert House, Freshfield.

Father Patrick Doyle

Father Patrick Doyle was born in Torloughmore, Athenry, Ireland on the 15th of April, 1925. He studied Philosophy in Burn Hall from 1944 till 1946. In 1946, he came to Mill Hill for the study of Theology. He was ordained priest there on the 8th of July, 1951. In 1959, Father Paddy received an appointment to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He remained in Burn Hall School, Abbottabad till 1965. In 1977, he was appointed Rector of Herbert House, Freshfield, England. In January, 1993, he was appointed to the Irish Region and became the guest master at Dartry House, Dublin. He died in Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin in the morning of the 16th of September, 1995.

Father Edmund Foord

Father Edmund Foord was born in Ealing, London on the 20th of August, 1914. He studied in Freshfield, Burn Hall, Roosendaal and Mill Hill. He was ordained priest on the 9th of May, 1940. Father Edmund’s first appointment was to the Upper Nile Vicariate in Uganda, where he worked till 1945. From 1948- 1961, he did organizing work from Herbert House, Liverpool. In 1961, Father Edmund was appointed to the Rawalpindi Diocese, Pakistan. He was asked to teach in Burn Hall, Abbottabad, and finally at St. Mary’s Rawalpindi City. Father Edmund Foord died of cancer in the morning of the 16th of March, 1982, in Nairobi, at the age of 67.

Father Hugh Anthony Lee

Father Hugh Lee was born on the 19th of June, 1931 in Co. Cavan in the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland. His parents were Thomas Lee and Margaret Mary McCabe. He has seven brothers and three sisters. Hugh started his education at Cornasaus National School, Cootehill, Co. Cavan. In September, 1951, he went for further studies to St. Joseph’s Roosendaal, Holland. After that he joined St. Joseph’s Mill Hill in September 1954, where he was ordained priest on the 13th of July, 1958. In July 1962, he was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan but, he arrived in Rawalpindi in late February 1963. From April to May, 1963, he replaced Father Jan Schrader at Burn Hall. Father Jan was hospitalized at the time. From December 1963 to 1968, he served as House Master at Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. He passed away in 2018, but his services for the institution will always be remembered.

Father Piet Zonneveld

Father Piet Zonneveld was born on the 2nd of February, 1939 at Heemskerk, The Netherlands. His parents were Jan and Cornelia Zonneveld. He has nine brothers and five sisters. He studied at Hoorn from 1953-1957, Tilburg 1957- 1959, Roosendaal 1951-1961. He came to Mill Hill in 1961 where he was ordained priest on the 10th of July, 1965. After a few months of his ordination he was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. From 1966 to 1976 he was at Burn Hall School, Abbottabad, and in 1976, he was appointed to St. Mary’s School, Rawalpindi, where he worked till 1981 as he had to return to Europe to work in Roosendaal. In 2000, he was appointed to Missiehuis Vrijland, where he is still working.

Father Joseph McIntyre

Father Joe McIntyre was born in England, on the 10th of February, 1942. He studied at the Mill Hill Colleges in England and Holland, and was ordained on the 10th of July, 1965. Father Joe McIntyre was appointed to Kampala, East Africa, and had been there for some years when he was asked to go to the Rawalpindi Diocese, in Pakistan in order to strengthen the staff of the Senior Burn Hall School, Abbottabad. He continued as a teacher there for almost three years until Burn Hall School was handed over to the Army. After that Father Joe went back to England and was involved in APF work.

Father Michael Conroy

Father Michael Conroy was born on the 14th of February, 1925, in Denny, Sterlingshire, Scotland. Mick studied at Tullamore, Co. Offaly and Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. His Philosophy was at Burn Hall, Durham, England and Theology at Mill Hill, London. He took the Perpetual Oath in 1948, and was ordained priest in Mill Hill on the 10th of July, 1949. In 1971, he was appointed to the Diocese of Rawalpindi, Pakistan where he was to spend the next 27 years teaching. First of all in Burn Hall Abbottabad, then St. Mary’s Academy, Lalazar and last of all in Sangota Public School, Swat. In 1999, he finally retired to Ireland. Father Michael was well loved and respected by his students. He died in Dublin of acute pneumonia on the 2nd of May, 2006, at the age of 81.