SOLVERSON, Howard




Author Tags: Biography

Howard Marvin Solverson is a musician and writer who divides his time between Vancouver and Aix-en-Provence, France. He lived for five years in Bhutan as the field director of development project. In Bhutan he heard about a legendary Jesuit in the Himalayas named Father William Mackey. Solverson wrote his biography in Vancouver.

Born to immigrant Irish parents, Mackey was taught by Jesuits and ordained in 1945. He joined the Darjeeling Mission as a teacher and priest in 1947. After a clash with local authorities, he walked across the Himalayas to the semi-feudal land of Bhutan, the 'Kingdom of the Dragon', where he established a modern educational system. He did not convert a single Bhutanese. Instead he learned and respected the principles of Buddhism, becoming a national hero to the Bhutanese in the process. "It is hard to realize the change that has taken place in thirty years," he told Solverson, who wrote his life story in The Jesuit and the Dragon. "We've jumped from a medieval Tibetan Buddhist society that ran without money, into the modern, educated, sophisticated, money bureaucracy... I am a better Jesuit, a better priest and a better human being because of my years in India and Bhutan." At age 75, having arrived in Bhutan 26 years earlier, the Canadian Jesuit priest received the two highest honours that Bhutan could confer: the Druk Zhung Thuksey medal and Bhutanese citizenship. In 1994, the University of New Brunswick also recognised his work with an honorary degree. In 1985, the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) had opened an office in Thimphu. More than 40 Canadian teachers worked in Bhutanese schools and 20 Bhutanese teachers studied at the University of New Brunswick under WUSC. After WUSC withdrew from Bhutan because of financial troubles at home, the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi took over the office in 1992, changing its name to the Bhutan-Canadian Cooperation Office (CCO). Because of UNB's long association with Bhutan, the Bhutanese government requested CIDA to continue its assistance to the education sector through UNB's Education Faculty. Father William Mackey died in 1995.

BOOKS:

The Jesuit and the Dragon: The Life of William Mackey in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan (Robert Davies Publishing, 1995).

[BCBW 2003] "Biography" "Missionaries"