17 November 2009

Columbans in Ireland thank media for coverage of kidnapping and release of Fr Michael Sinnott

The letter below appeared in The Irish Times today (Tuesday 17 November). Fr Malachy Smyth is the Communications Coordinator of the Columbans in Ireland.

Madam, – The Columban Missionaries in Ireland would like to acknowledgetheir appreciation of the important role played by the media – print andelectronic – in sympathetically covering the abduction and subsequent releaseof Fr Michael Sinnott, SSC.

Lobby of St Columban's, Manila

Even though the ordeal happened on the other side of the world, people inIreland were able to stay in touch with events through the competent way thepress dealt with the kidnapping. This was a great relief to his family, to hisColumban colleagues, to his friends and to a large segment of the Irish publicwho showed such sympathetic interest in the plight of this courageousmissionary.
Fr Rufus Halley

We believe that this sustained coverage by the media helped in no small wayin bringing the kidnapping to a peaceful resolution. As missionaries we knewfrom the previous kidnapping of the late Fr Desmond Hartford (1997) and thelate Fr Rufus Halley (2001) that the kidnapping could have ended in great painor even death. A happy ending, without violence or any loss of life, was ourfervent wish and prayer.

We are also grateful that the media brought to the attention of the Irishpeople the sterling service that Fr Michael and missionaries like him havegiven in economically poor communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America fordecades.

You highlighted his courage and work for the “disappeared” during the years of the Marcos dictatorship, and his current ministry supporting a charity forchildren with special needs in Pagadian City. When he was released on the 32ndday of captivity, the media brought Fr Michael’s own words to the Irish people. You commented on his lack of anger and bitterness towards his captives and of his eagerness to get back to work as quickly as possible.

Cardinal Seán Brady

We are also grateful to the Irish church. Prayers for his safety and releasewere said in home, schools and churches throughout the length and breadth ofIreland.

Ten minutes after word of his freedom came through from the Government,Cardinal Seán Brady (Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland) phoned our superior to express his delight.
Renewed thanks to the people in the media and to all those who supported FrMichael during his captivity.

Finally, we would like to thank Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and the officials in his department both in Ireland and in the Philippines fortheir daily, tireless efforts to secure Fr Michael’s release.

We in the Columban Missionary Society are truly grateful, and will rememberyou in our prayers. – Yours, etc,

St Columban’s
Dalgan Park,
Co Meath.

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