Bill Flynn – a do-gooder
By Danielle Monzo
Photo provided by Bill Flynn
Eight years ago, a Catholic priest named Father Joseph Valiaparambil found himself with eight weeks off from his studies in Rome where he was earning a Ph.D. After writing a letter to the Diocese of Camden inquiring if any parishes in Ocean City needed help during the summer time, Father Joseph came to the island.
He told parish members here about an impoverished state in India known as Odisha in need of English speaking men to teach English and computer sciences. While most people in the parishes wondered what else they could do that didn’t involve travel to India, a single hand rose in the air. That hand belonged to Bill Flynn, who simply replied, “I’ll do it.”
For the next six years, Bill, an Ocean City native and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, found himself teaching English and computer sciences to seminarians at the Shanti Bhavan Seminary in Odisha, India. Odisha is south of Darjeeling, where Mother Teresa chose her name, and Kolkata where she helped the poor and established a home for the dying and destitute. Like Kolkata, Odisha is a very poor state.
“I have never seen poor like the poor in Odisha,” Bill said.
Bill would know.
As a well-traveled man, he has seen people and places throughout the world some people only read about. Places like China, Vietnam, Korea, Italy, Austria and Germany, to name a few.
But one has to wonder, why does English need to be taught in Odisha? When Ghandi gained independence for the once British colonized land, the country became what we now know as India.
“Each state had to have their own language,” Bill explained.
In India, there are 26 states, and 26 languages. Those languages are then broken down into different dialects; a melting pot of blended speech.
“India is like the story of the Tower of Babel,” Bill said.
Speaking English is very important in India. English is the language they use in their court system and in their military, according to Bill.
“English is the common thread that goes through the States,” he said.
Turns out English is more than a language in India, it’s a unifying denominator throughout the country.
Bill explained that he taught American-English as opposed to British-English since American-English is preferred in order for India to maintain relations with the United States.
Before his travels to India, Bill served a 20-year career in the United States Army where he spent time in Vietnam and retired as a Colonel. More recently, and quite admirably, he was named the Knight of the Year for the State of New Jersey out of 63,000 Knights.
“The Knights of Columbus is a strong Catholic organization of men,” said Bill.
The Knights of Columbus includes 1.9 million men from all corners of the world including the United States, Canada, Guam, and South Korea. “They are do-gooders; people doing good in the community,” Bill said.
How does one recognize a do-gooder exactly? “A person who recognizes the humanity in other people,” Bill said.
He remembers a moment in India where a Christian dug a well to bring fresh water to a village where they persecute Christians. A person like that, Bill says, fits the description.
“There’s a good guy,” said Bill. “He’s a do-gooder.”
Bill’s friends recognize him as a do-gooder too. Joe Lang has been close buddies with Bill for the past 25 years.
“Bill is very articulate and very intelligent. He would do anything for you, anytime. He is tremendous for Ocean City and an outstanding gentleman,” said Joe. “We are very proud of him for (his trip to India).”
Nowadays Bill spends most of his time on the island and stays heavily involved with his church.
“You know the stereotypical ‘little old church lady?’ Well, now I am a little old church man,” said Bill.
Recently, Flynn left OC for a trip with his family to Cape Cod. He and his wife love spending time with their grandchildren.
“We went with our grandchildren and the people they live with,” Flynn laughs as he references his own children.
It’s right here in Ocean City where good karma exists through the endeavors of a true do-gooder. From India to America, Bill says that doing good is, “when you’re welcoming to humanity.” He has proven it does not matter where you are to be able to do good things. After all, the start of something great can come from a the simple act of lifting a helping hand.