Polish Missionary Working with Lepers in India Suggested for Nobel Prize

Nazi-Camp Survivor Lives in a Colony He Set Up

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ROME, OCT. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A Polish-born missionary who has spent a half-century fighting leprosy in India is a candidate for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, SAR News reports.



Society of Divine Word Father Marian Zalazek, 84, who lives and works among the leprosy patients in a colony he established in the town of Puri, in Orissa, has been a "shining example of how fellow human beings can help a man transform the life of others," according to one national news agency.

"My work is not intended for any award. It is intended to reduce the suffering of the poor and the diseased," he said.

Father Zalazek, who spent five years in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, said people from several parts of the world, including Poland, had recommended his name for the Nobel prize.

"The inhuman existence in the Nazi camp did not leave him a bitter person but awoke in him a deep faith in the dignity of every human being and a strong desire to make this world good by doing good himself," the recommendation forwarded by the Catholic Church in Bhubaneshwar said.

"It is not difficult to be good, provided one wants to be so," SAR quoted Father Zalazek as saying.

Father Zalazek came to India in 1948 and worked among the tribal people. In 1975, he set up a colony for leprosy patients in Puri. Today, the colony has over 600 permanent inmates. It also shelters the relatives of the leprosy patients who are undergoing treatment there.

Father Zalazek's birthday falls on the International Lepers' Day, observed on Jan. 30.