SHANG LUO, China, FEB. 25, 2003 ( Father Shen Don Wen, a South Korean from the Pusan Diocese, has been working for several years with a group of Korean nuns to alleviate the suffering of lepers in China.

The Leprosy Center is in the woods of a mountain region near Shang Luo in the province of Shaanxi in central western China. The center consists of a clinic for medical treatment, a research laboratory, wards for the sick, and a staff room.

Father Shen is also concerned about the spiritual welfare of the patients. Lepers are usually regarded with horror by families and friends. The "lepers' angels," as Father Shen and his co-workers are called, try to restore their patients' self-esteem and reunite them with their families.

One patient was so depressed that he threatened suicide. Father Shen and the religious sisters made sure he was never left alone and helped him face his illness. The man recovered peace of mind and is now a spiritual guide for the other patients.

The Church in Korea supports the missionaries' work. One diocesan bulletin described the Leper Center as a "family home rather than a hospital."


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