22 October 2009

21 October, Day 10. Update on kidnapping of Fr Michael Sinnott

Father Michael Sinnott with friends at a celebration

Fr Michael Sinnott - Day 10
21 October, 10:16pm Philippine time, 2:16pm GMT
by Fr Patrick O'Donoghue
Regional Director of the Columbans in the Philippines

We are coming to the end of Day 10 and Father Mick is entering into his 11th night in captivity. And we have no confirmed news of where he might be or how he may be. The waiting goes on. I found myself many times today wondering what he might be thinking and feeling. I’m sure he knows that we would be doing all we can to get him home, but it is a lonely vigil for him. May God fill him with peace and with hope and with trust.

As I was preparing for Mass this morning I got the inspiration to use the prayers for ‘Those Unjustly Deprived of Liberty’. And it wasn’t just Father Mick who I thought of but the countless thousands who are in similar situations. But Father Mick was very much ‘present’ to me and I hope that he experienced the presence of Jesus with him. By coincidence - or should we acknowledge the working of the Spirit? - I had an email from Fr John Burger (a member of the Columban General Council in Hong Kong) a little while ago to say that the Columbans on their annual retreat in Tagaytay also used this Mass this evening. The sustaining power of God is very much pervading this whole experience.

The prayer of Esther (Office of Readings) also permeated my day: ‘O God whose strength prevails over all, listen to the voice of the desperate, save us from the hand of the wicked, and free me from my fear’. It is the prayer of the vulnerable, a prayer of deep trust in the face of the disvalues of those who worship power and who seem to have the advantage. The vulnerable unite themselves to the One who chose the Way of Incarnation and choose to walk with him – in truth, in love, in trust.

For now I have chosen not to give anymore interviews. I did speak with some reporters. I understand their impatience when there is nothing to report, nothing new to add to the story and they are asked to write or say something on air! I try to get them to share what they feel and how they see the situation and I encourage them to keep the focus on Father Mick and on the effects his abduction has had on others, especially the people here in Pagadian. I urge them not to speculate or to give undue publicity to any of the groups who are suspected of taking him but to keep the pleas of so many people and groups for his release to the forefront.

I also met with Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar CSsR of Pagadian and some other priests as we sought to find some ‘clue’ to light the way forward. Rumours abound and some can even be humourous. But the elusive hard evidence is not there, as yet.

I had some visitors for supper tonight. People are kind and supportive. Fr Jim Mulroney (an Australian Columban who edits the Sunday Examiner) phoned from Hong Kong to tell me about their prayer vigil last Sunday night and to let me know that the messages of encouragement and goodwill, which were written by some of those who attended the Vigil in Hong Kong, are now on their way here. We hope to use them on Sunday when there will be another Interfaith Rally – a very lovely way of uniting the people of Hong Kong and Pagadian in prayer for Father Mick. What joy it would be if Sunday’s Rally were to one of thanksgiving for his safe release. May God watch over you this night, Father Mick, and bring you safely home soon!

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