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He also has dedicated much effort and action on human rights and justice.
In this discussion in March 2015 with Nat Adams in Dhaka, he reflects on high points of his career.
Holy Cross has been here [in Bangladesh] for over 150 years—I’ve written a book on the history of the order. I think there were only two local brothers, one of whom entered the order in the 1800s!
I’ve been here for 63 years; this is my sixty-fourth year. For a long time the policy was against having any locals taken into the community.
Archbishop Graner was strongly in favor of it too, so they got some priests together in the country with appropriate backgrounds. I wrote a textbook of college biology that was used in all of the colleges, but the quality of education was not always very good.
At the time of the Partition of India in 1947 there wasn’t even a medical college in the whole country.
Asked what represents the most important force for positive change in Bangladesh, he highlights participatory approaches that he links to the Paolo Freire approach to education.
Could you reflect on your history with Holy Cross in Bangladesh?
In 1970 they went completely into Bengali for everyone, all educational institutions, so it was a little hard for me to pick up Bengali so fast.Background: Father Richard William Timm has witnessed much of the history of Bangladesh since he arrived as an educator in 1952 with the Holy Cross Fathers.A renowned biologist who has written textbooks and continues to teach, he became heavily involved in the Catholic response to cyclone Bhola in 1970 and the Liberation War in 1971, working closely with Caritas Bangladesh ever since.He did his doctorate at Notre Dame in yoga philosophy and he is now a candidate for sainthood. I was focused on research and teaching for my first 40 years in Bangladesh. In fact, I discovered several species myself, and other scientists have named several new genera or species after me.
I was with him for eight years and I always called him a saint! When they opened Notre Dame College here in Dhaka, they had somebody to head every department except for science, and they needed someone desperately, so they wanted me to get a quick degree in one year and come over and open the science department.When was Notre Dame College founded and what was the initial mission behind the school?