The 17th Death Anniversary of Servant of God Marian Zelazek, SVD, was celebrated with great enthusiasm and reverence at various places in Puri, Odisha, on Sunday, 30th April 2023. Father Marian, popularly called BAPA, left for his eternal reward on this day in 2006 at the Jeebaramji Leprosy Colony near Lokanath Temple in Puri. On the day he died, BAPA participated in the ASTA PRAHARI organized on AKHAYA TRITIYA at the leprosy colony. He was returning to his vehicle when his call came to leave his KARMA BHOOMI for his eternal reward.
A life-size statue of Father Marian Zelazek with four school children was unveiled at the Beatrix School campus to honour him for his foresight in establishing a school dedicated to the education of the children from leprosy background by Most Rev. John Barwa, SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese. He was assisted by Rev. Fr. Anurnajan Bildung, SVD, President of the School. School children, Staff, guardians and well-wishers were present in large numbers for the dedication of this Memorial to Father Marian.
The dignitaries offered floral tributes to the saintly soul at the formal function held in the school hall. Shri Hector Mishra, a well-known freelance Journalist and Social worker was the chief speaker on the occasion. He highlighted the compassion and love shared by Father Marian with the suffering and needy persons. In addition, schoolchildren and former students of Beatrix School enacted a play on the life of service that Father Marian lived.
The President of the School formally inaugurated the Ruby Jubilee of Beatrix School on the occasion. The history of the school that was begun under a mango tree with seven children of leprosy families was presented by Mrs. Sudhansubala Pattnaik, Headmistress of the Upper Primary School.
Jeebaramji Leprosy Colony was the KARMA BHOOMI of Father Marian for 31 years. The Archbishop unveiled a beautiful mural of BAPA in the colony at the spot of his last breath. The colony inmates observed the day by singing kirtan and remembering him fondly for the love he shared with them. The colony was filled with emotional sentiments as they remembered the one person who gave them dignity and self-respect amidst the deprivations of leprosy. The Parishioners of Puri Parish offered a special Holy Mass in the evening. A bust was installed at the Church by Rev. Fr. Anuranjan Bildung, SVD, Provincial Superior of the Society of the Divine Word, India East Province. Everyone was invited to practice the principle of Father Marian - “It is not difficult to be good if one wants to be....”. A great soul that touched hundreds of lives with his compassion and love was fondly remembered and celebrated with due dignity and honour by the people he loved and lived for.
Fr. Ronald Pereira, SVD.