22 November 2009

'Thank you' from Fr Michael Sinnott

Fr Michael Sinnott some days after his release

Message of thanks from Fr Michael Sinnott

November 20, 2009.

Writing the date above was the easiest part of writing this note. I am trying to think where to begin and how I can possibily find words to thank adequately all the people who prayed for me while I was in captivity and worked to help to get my release.

I have bee amazed since I came out to learn about the amount of coverage my kidnapping got - not only in the Philippines and Ireland but in many other countries as well. And by coverage I mean not only the publicity but especially the number of people who were praying for me, organising rallies, prayer vigils, Masses and other activities - and that the Columbans even fasted and prayed for a day ! I am truly humbled by it all as I don't feel I did anything that any other Columban would not have done in the same circumstances. It must have been harder on those who, like Fr Pat O'Donoghue (Columban superior in the Philippines) and Bishop Manny Carbajar CSSR (of Pagadian) and others, worked so tirelessly my release. My ordeal lasted only a month while many Columbans, like those in Pakistan, are working in a constant state of tension which must be much worse.

I am afraid I have not conveyed the thanks I feel but in summary let me simplly say a very, very sincere thank you to all who prayed and helped to get my release. I hope I may be able to do so personally to many of you when we meet.

Again, many, many thanks,

Fr Mick Sinnott.

Fr Tommy Murphy, Columban Superior General

St Columban’s Day Message from Superior General

As St Columban’s Day approaches we will be gathering this year with a special sense of gratitude for the safe release of Fr Michael Sinnott. The news of his release was greeted with relief and thanksgiving by people all over the world who had followed his ordeal with concern, interest and prayers during the previous thirty two days. His own immediate family were overjoyed to hear from an official at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that Father Michael was no longer in custody and was in safe hands.

Father Michael’s subsequent appearances on TV screens around the world and his radio interviews have been marked by common sense, a touch of humour and a total lack of self-pity. People have been struck by the integrity of the man and were impressed to hear him say that all he now wanted to do was to return to his work in Pagadian. Many also have commented on the gracious attitude he displayed towards his captors and his lack of rancour at being subjected to this ordeal. We are proud of Father Michael on the way he has come through this ordeal and on the manner in which he has conducted himself since been freed.

Father Michael’s experience highlights once again the fact that from the very beginning of our Society, being a Columban missionary at times meant putting one’s life in danger. Many Columbans in the past have suffered what Father Michael has endured and twenty three of them have lost their lives violently as a result of their ministry. However, this reality has never stopped Columbans from committing themselves to Columban mission priorities in the various Regions or Mission Units where they were assigned. When we look at Father Michael’s life and his recent experience we can see the evidence of some core Columban ideals present here. There is something here that all of us strive for and hold up as ideals for ourselves. Indeed many Columban Missionaries live out these ideals in quiet lives of unheralded ministry and service. St Columban’s day is an appropriate moment to acknowledge this reality and to celebrate it.

May St Columban continue to accompany us all on our missionary journey.

Fr Tommy Murphy

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