The Polish priest was ordained by the Missionaries of the World in 1948 and has been working for the uplift of untouchables in India since 1950. For 25 years he taught and supervised a network of missionary schools for untouchables in Sundergarh, Orissa—one of India’s most backward districts. In 1975, he began a new chapter in his Indian adventure, moving to the holy town of Puri to work with lepers. Here he set up the Karunalaya Centre of Mercy and Love, a colony for lepers. The centre now houses 600 inmates.
Zelazek was born near Poznan, Poland, on January 30, 1918. During World War II he spent five years at the Dachau concentration camp. This dehumanising experience, however, nurtured in him a compassion for those suffering. He decided to devote his life to work among the poor.
Father Marian’s nomination has brought into focus his five-decade-long selfless work.