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Founder of the historic leprosy Health Center in India passes away

Nalgonda, India, 13 Nov 2013: Fr. Luigi Pezzoni, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), in India for over 50 years, died on Tuesday in Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He was 82. The funeral will be held on November 15 in Nalgonda, where in 1973 he founded the Leprosy Health Centre, a nursing home, healing and rehabilitation centre for leprosy patients.

Born in 1931 in Palosco, in the province of Bergamo, Italy, Fr. Pezzoni entered the PIME seminary in Monza in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1958. After a first missionary service in Italy, in 1966 he was sent to India, where he remained for the rest of his life.

The Leprosy Health Centre in Nalgonda was established on his initiative in 1973. Over the years, it has grown, with the help of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Valencia. Today, the center includes a school and a boarding school for 500 children, a hospital, where 200 leprosy sufferers are in care, a textile laboratory and the colony of Shanti Nagar, where - in houses with two rooms - about 100 leprosy sufferers live.

In addition to the little children living in the colony, Fr. Pezzoni has extended its service to other villages in Andhra Pradesh, helping 3,500 children and 5 thousand leprosy patients. This year, nearly Five thousand poor children and children of patients received a scholarship from the missionary.

Much of the work at Leprosy Health Centre is possible thanks to the support of the Missions Aid Office (Uam) in the PIME center in Milan. One of the latest projects launched by Fr. Pezzoni is the construction of a new hospital for the treatment of AIDS patients. It will house 100 beds and have a day-hospital with assistance and distribution of drugs to the sick. It will also include a hostel for visiting students or internship. Initiated in 2012, the facility should be completed in 2015.

In one of his last letters, dated August 2013, Fr. Pezzoni writes: "We continue with our service of joy and love to all those who need our help. And that's not all: every evening we recite the Rosary for everyone, so that God may give His help to those who need it most".
Source: AsiaNews


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