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Nobel nomination for leper colony missionary who survived Dachau

Polish Divine Word missionary Fr Marian Zelazek has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The proposal, announced in Warsaw's Palace of Congresses, was supported by many politicians, both in India as well as in Europe.

In honouring Fr Zelazek, the promoters said they wanted to recognise the work of all missionaries who both work to eradicate leprosy and to promote dialogue between religions and cultures.

Fr Zelazek, bornin 1918, spent five years in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The experience, he said, made him more aware of his faith, and of the dignity of every human being.

He completed his education in Rome after the war. Ordained a priest in 1948, he left for India as a missionary.

For the first 25 years there, he was dedicated to the education of the Adivasi natives. Since 1975, he has worked in the city of Puri in Orissa, a Hindu sacred place. On the outskirts of Puri, Fr Zelazek organized a leper colony, his life's work.

The colony grew steadily, and now has 600 permanent residents. The colony offers lepers a home, food and clothes, and welcomes patients' families.

Lepra News