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Christians remember YMCA founder

Bangladeshi Protestant leader worked hard to develop inter-faith togetherness

Christians remember YMCA founder
A portrait of Mathew Malakar
Sumon Corraya, Dhaka

March 21, 2011

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Catholics have joined other denominations in a display of Christian unity to remember a Protestant leader who established the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Bangladesh. About 70 Christians prayed and discussed the life of Matthew Malaker, 78, from the Protestant Church of Bangladesh at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh center in Dhaka on March 18. Malaker who died on February 6 was the YMCA’s first full-time national general secretary, which now boasts 12 local branches in Bangladesh. He is buried in his home town in Barisal, southern Bangladesh. The international church organization works with all people irrespective of their background, with a view to uplifting their socio-economic status. The late leader is also credited with fostering developing inter-faith and inter-church relations in Bangladesh. “He was a good friend of mine. We worked a lot together on inter-church dialogue programs,” said Holy Cross Brother Jarlath D’Souza, 81. “He was an honest and simple man. He couldn’t buy a house or car in the city, so he went back to live in a village when he retired,” the elderly brother added. “Matthew was a man of conviction and strove to do good things throughout his life. The growth of the YMCA in Bangladesh can be credited to people like him,” Church of Bangladesh bishop Paul Shishir Sarker, 47 told the gathering. National YMCA president Babu Marcus Gomes, 46, a Catholic said: “Matthew Malaker wholeheartedly contributed to the development of the YMCA to where it is today. He also worked hard on various issues relating to Christian society in Bangladesh. He was also very popular among the young for helping them.” Born in 1933 Matthew Malaker helped form the local YMCA in Bangladesh in 1965. He became its head in 1977 and made it a member of the worldwide body before retiring in 1988. BA13687.1646
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