15 October 2009

Wednesday night update on kidnapped Fr Michael Sinnott

Christian and Muslim students in Zamboanga del Sur National High School, Pagadian City

Here is an edited version of an email sent last night at 11:17 Philippine time by Columban superior in the Philippines, Fr Pat O'Donoghue.

Dear Friends,

It is already after 10pm and I am trying to get this out as I believe that it is important to try to keep everyone up to date. As often happens in these instances there is a lot of misinformation out there.

I am grateful to those of you who have pointed out a piece of misinformation of my own making - a rather serious typo! - when I left out the all important word NOT when I was speaking of ransom. As most of you realised, the policy of the Church and the Columbans is that we do NOT pay ransom. And I have made this clear both to the authorities here and to the media when asked.

It has been a long and tiring day and the internet was not working well and so I have not had time to read through the 30+ emails that are waiting to be read. But it is clear that so many people around the world are supporting us with prayer and concern. On that note there were many visitors to the house here today to offer that same kind of support. Two Mercy Sisters from Iligan were here as was Fr Frank Pintac (a priest of the Diocese of Pagadian who has worked with the Columbans in Brazil), Auring Luceño (a Columban lay missionary from Pagadian), and many others, including some friends of mine from my own time here in Pagadian. There are many other groups here in the City who are organising prayer vigils and I believe that is happening in other parts of the world as well.

There were several reporters on the phone and also at the door. I have a simple message for all of them - we want Father Mick's health to be protected and we want his safe release. When called by a live program in Zamboanga City, I was asked what my message to the kidnappers was. ‘Simple and straightforward: Release Father Mick now. Recognise that you have made a mistake. Think of who he is - an old man who has given his life for peace and for others. Think of who he is to the Children of Hangop Kabataan and listen to what everyone is saying about him. There is a greater value than money in this - release him now out of compassion and you will know the appreciation of everyone that you can be compassionate'. God can change hearts.

I did a long audio interview with UCANews. It was clear to me that they were interested in Mick, in Mission and discovering why we would want to stay here in a place that seems to be so dangerous. Prime Time (RTÉ TV evening program) have also contacted me to know if they could set up a live-link with their studio in Dublin. I have my reservations about it.

It was a day of connecting again with people who are involved with the investigation. Bishop Cabajar (of Pagadian) was in Ozamiz. There is no hard news yet and as the days go on and we are not sure how Father Mick is or where he is, concern grows. We continue to wait but not without hope. As I was saying Mass this morning, I was struck by the embossed image of the Resurrection on the large host as I was saying the words of consecration. The God of life is with us, even in darkness, loneliness and powerlessness. And we pray in that knowledge and hope.

I am attaching a statement put out by the Interfaith Forum.

Here is the statement:

Interfaith Forum for Solidarity and Peace
Pagadian City
Zamboanga del Sur
Official Statement

We, the Interfaith Forum for Solidarity and Peace held an emergency meeting on the 12th day of October 2009 at Columban Hall, Sto. Nino Cathedral, Pagadian City.

As members of the interfaith forum, adhering to unity, solidarity and peace, mutual understanding and harmony of the tri-people, the Christians, Muslims and Subanens strongly denounce and condemn the recent abduction and kidnapping of Fr. Michael Sinnott.

Fr. Sinnott was abducted and kidnapped at around 7.20 in the evening of October 11, 2009 by unidentified armed men inside the Columban House compound, Gatas Dist., Pagadian City.

Fr. Mick Sinnott is a Columban priest who has spent more than half of his life in serving the Church in Mindanao. He is an active member of the Interfaith Forum for Solidarity and Peace showing his love to peace building. He is also the founder of Hangop Kabataan Foundation, Inc. attending special attention to special children.
Now, we appeal to the public for sobriety and to remain calm and consistent in praying for the safety and immediate release of Fr. Mick Sinnott. We also appeal to the abductors the sudden change of hearts and release the priest who is not at all in good health, and to lawful authorities to exhaust all safety efforts and expedite the search and rescue operation. Furthermore, we appeal to the general public to provide vital information for the immediate recovery of Fr. Mick.

Please contact us in this mobile number 09351930701

Interfaith Conveners,

Rev. Eric Calgas, UCCP Convener, Rev. Fr. Felix Tigoy, Catholic Convenor

Sultan Maguid Maruhom, Muslim Convenor


basil said...

Is this the same Fr Michael Sinnott who was caught shoplifting some time ago in Wexford?

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Basil, I remember the story of two priests from the Diocese of Ferns, which covers most of County Wexford, who were found guilty of shoplifting myabe 20 or 30 years ago.

I can assure you that Fr Michael Sinnott, who is still in captivity, has never been caught shoplifting.Please pray for his safe return.