“Dalit Leader,” “Freedom Fighter,” “Youth Advocate,” “Champion of the Poor,” are only a few of the titles used to describe the Director of our Dalit Leadership Academy.
Under Fr. Raj’s strong and capable leadership, Dalit Solidarity has grown from a small organization that provided housing for a few students, to an organization that provides health care, education and economic development programs for thousands of India’s Dalits.
A Dalit himself, from the Villupuram District, Fr. Raj joined the seminary at age twelve. There he began his lifelong love of learning. Fr. Raj’s educational accomplishments include bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and theology, a law degree, and master’s degree in sociology. Beginning in June, he will spend six months in Nova Scotia, studying at the Coady International Institute in their Development Leadership Program. He is a strong advocate of the importance of quality education for the Dalit community, and has been instrumental in the development of our education program.
For the past seven years, Fr. Raj has also been the pastor of Vellakulam Parish, where he supervised the construction of a new church, parish center and school and served as the administrator of the parish school. In addition to his pastoral duties, he serves as the Director of the Job Placement and Training Center for Dalit Youth in Chennai. He also serves on the Board of Directors of a girls’ home for tsunami victims.
Fr. Raj utilizes all the latest technology in his work. He is rarely seen without a cell phone, microphone, iPod, or laptop. His responsibilities are overwhelming; yet he manages them with the utmost competence, true compassion for his fellow men and women, and always with a smile.
We are truly grateful for Fr. Raj’s many years of dedicated service to Dalit Solidarity and are proud to be able to call him the best of “Friends”.