Kidnapped remembered on Mission Sunday
Sunday, October 18th, 2009
'I plead with those who have influence to expedite the release of this true servant of the people,' said Bishop Colm O’Reilly (in photo) speaking of Fr Michael Sinnott.
Commenting ahead of Mission Sunday (18 October), Bishop Colm O’Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois and Chair of the Bishops’ Commission for the Missions said, 'During this month we remember all missionaries throughout the world but especially our 2,000 Irish born missionaries serving the poorest of the poor in 83 developing countries. We remember especially at this time Father Michael Sinnott who was abducted last Sunday in the Philippines. As a Columban priest, Father Sinnott dedicated his pastoral work to supporting the most vulnerable and I plead with those who have influence to expedite the release of this true servant of the people.'
Bishop O’Reilly also recalled last Sunday when special prayers were offered for the safe and speedy release of GOAL workers Ms Sharon Commins and Ms Hilda Kawuki, who were kidnapped in Sudan in July. He appealed for the release for the women who have now spent over 100 days in captivity. (These two, Hilda from Uganda [left] and Sharon from Ireland [right], in photo, were released yesterday).
Sharon after her release
'The theme of Mission Sunday 2009 is "Reach Out" and it has taken on a new meaning inspired by the bravery of our Irish missionaries. Our prayers, and the generosity of our contributions, greatly support their work while affirming and strengthening missionaries in these difficult times. Let Fr Sinnott, Sharon and Hilda and the many other Irish priests, religious and lay volunteers, be the focus of our prayers for this Mission Sunday.'
Fr Shay Cullen at the Preda Centre in the Philippines wrote about Fr Michael this week stating he is a true dedicated self-sacrificing missionary. Fr Shay wrote in his column that the kidnapped priest is his former professor at the Columban Seminary in Navan, Ireland and co-missionary in the Philippines and asked for prayers for his safe release.
'Father Michael has a heart condition and needs his daily medication. At his age, 79, he will be greatly challenged by this terrible ordeal. We appeal to the people who abducted him to respect his dignity and medical condition, treat him with kindness and not harshly, and provide him with his medication. There is a wide search going on all across Northern Mindanao as I write this and we can only hope and pray he will be released unharmed. The outpouring of love and respect for him by the people all over the Philippines is overwhelming. He has a home for children with special needs that need him to return safely.'
Fr Shay continued, 'Columbans and many thousands of Missionaries, men and women, ordained and laity have given their lives over the past centuries to make real a new way of living together - the Kingdom of justice and love, truth and equality, respect and freedom. We pray and hope and plea that he will not be harmed. We appeal that his captors will respect his life's dedication and commitment to the dignity and rights of the Muslim and Christian people alike. I appeal to the authorities to do nothing violent if he is located with his captors but to negotiate a peaceful release and return.'
'These are the hazards and challenges that we missionaries face in this difficult and challenging life. In difficult missions, in order to serve the neediest the sick and the oppressed, we have to face the threats of people who oppose the work for justice and freedom. Being a missionary is the most challenging call these days. We all know here that we could face the same danger and ordeal and have to accept it with fortitude and strength of mind and heart and trust in God. The Gospel is the path to a more meaningful life, to care and help others without reward is the heart of it. Father Michael worked for such a world and may he come through this hardship and continue his life of service to those in greatest need. '
Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for Mission Sunday is on the theme 'The nations will walk in its light (Rev 21:24).' Mission Alive celebrations are taking place throughout October in Ireland. See http://www.catholicbishops.ie/.
by Ann Marie Foley
Two nieces of Fr Sinnott appeared on the very popular Late Late Show on Irish TV last Friday, as did Fr Donal Hogan, superior of the Columbans in Ireland. His nieces spoke with great love and affection for the uncle they have known all their lives, of his prayerfulness and also of his strong sense of social justice. You can watch this 1hour and 38 minutes into the program, broadcast live on Friday 16 October, here. However, the connection may be slow and unsatisfactory.