28 October 2009

27 October 2009, Day 16. Update on kidnapping of Fr Michael Sinnott

Tuesday 27 October 2009, 10:13pm Philippine time, 2:13 GMT
By Fr Patrick O’Donoghue, Columban Superior in the Phiippines

“Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act…. Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret….. Wait for the Lord and keep to his way. It is he who will free you from the wicked. (Psalm 37)….. Lord, you keep your pledge with wonders, O God our saviour! (Psalm 65)” These words of the psalms came bouncing off the page at me this morning as we entered another day not knowing how long more we are to wait. They encourage, they give strength, they give hope. Is it not true that difficult situations seem to bring the Word of God more alive such that it does penetrate to our depths? And then in the first reading at Mass, Paul tells us that all creation is groaning as it awaits its liberation and he goes on: “we, too, groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free”. Paul has more in mind here than physical liberty from captivity, but nonetheless the words resonate. There is much ‘groaning inwardly” – that ardent longing expressed in prayer – in many parts of the world for Father Mick’s release. We wait, we trust. God will act. Indeed God is acting already except we do not know how. The ever-loving God is with us.

It was a quiet enough morning that allowed me once again to catch up on some other work. But rumours continued to surface here and elsewhere. I was asked by one reporter if I had seen the video of Father Mick. I haven’t and I don’t know of anyone else (trustworthy witness) who has. I strongly doubt if it exists. Just before lunch and into the afternoon there have been several bits of information given to me. One person who sent me a piece of information that, if true, would be wonderful, could not understand that I did not react with greater enthusiasm! I simply and gently said that something similar to this had been communicated to us already but proved not to be true. The person was unconvinced because they believed the person who told them – but there was no corroborating evidence. I promised that I would look into it. I now realize, through experience, how difficult it is for any investigation to get quick results when there is no “clear lead” and many bits of information, often contradictory, have to be checked out properly.

As I have said before, we have a sense that we know the area where Father Mick most likely is. But we still don’t know who exactly is holding him and why. The media continue to talk about cooperation between the government forces and the MILF. It is not a simple issue. Without prejudicing the issues involved, whatever would lead to Father Mick’s safe and speedy freedom can only be welcomed. In the later afternoon the media picked up a statement that there were ‘negotiations now begun’ and it was hoped that he would be released within two or three days. When this happens the phones start ringing to get some comment or confirmation. I have been trying since the beginning to avoid any speculation and to focus on Father Mick, on the effects of his abduction on people here and elsewhere and on the calls for him to be released unconditionally. So, at about 6pm I sent a short statement to the CBCP press officer for them to use. I will attach it to this update.

As always, there were a number of visitors today. (Columban) Fr Sean Martin arrived this morning and will stay tonight. It is good to see him. Auring Luceño (Columban lay missionary from Pagadian) is here everyday and is a tremendous help in getting many things done. Beth Sabado (Columban lay missionary, Taiwan) arrived Sunday in Pagadian (her home city also) and it was nice to see her. And Fr. Reno and Fr. Indra (scj) (who are in Dumalinao parish) both visited in the afternoon – they drop in every couple of days and are very supportive. And people continue to send their messages of support. I try now to acknowledge them when they arrive, though many tell me not to bother. Yet, I believe that it is good to let people know that their prayerful good wishes got here. If I have failed to acknowledge, however, it doesn’t mean that they did not arrive – just that I didn’t do what I intended to do! There have been messages from Britain, Myanmar, USA, Australia, Japan and Taiwan among others. Fr Pat O’Beirne (Taiwan) said in his email that the Columbans there are on retreat and are praying for Father Mick. They also have a candle lighting for him. Fr Padhraic O’Loughlin has emailed me a number of times from Rome. And, of course, there are many messages from within the Philippines as well.

I was also told by some of the people, whose apostolate is to visit the Provincial Jail here in Pagadian, that some of the prisoners were inquiring about Father Mick and are concerned for him. They know what it is to be deprived of one’s freedom. And their prayers are added to the many others that are being offered throughout the world even as I write. Someone from the USA pointed out that while we are asleep here in the Philippines they are awake there – and praying. So the prayer vigil goes on around the clock. And, tomorrow October 28th, we as a Society, will fast and pray around the clock.

Father Mick is entering into his 17th night of captivity. His vigil cannot be getting easier. But we watch and pray with him and dare to hope that the abductors compassion will outweigh whatever drove them to take him in the first place and set him free now.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I pray for safe return of Father Mick