01 November 2009

Video released of Fr Michael Sinnott. Day 20

Fr Michael Sinnott Still from video of 24 October

In his daily update below Fr Pat O'Donoghue refers to the video made on Saturday 24 October which you can view as part of an RTÉ (Irish national radio and TV) report. (Click on the video icon under the headline and you will find links to three different TV reports).

1 November 2009, 0:23am Philippine time, 31 October 4:23pm GMT
Fr Patrick O’Donoghue, Columban Superior, Philippines

Fr Mick Sinnott is twenty days in captivity today. It was the day the silence was broken and we got definite news.

Today we also celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Sr Mary Judith of Christ, a Carmelite Nun (contemplative) who is the sister of Auring Luceño, Columban Lay Missionary. The Mass and celebration were held at San Jose parish church, which has many streamers calling for Father Mick’s release. ‘I have carried you on eagle’s wings; I have cared for you in all your years’. There was something especially beautiful in these words sung as the responsorial psalm. We were celebrating God’s faithful love once more – this time in the life of Sr Judith. But I would imagine that for many, if not all of us, we were thinking, too, of Father Mick. And with gratitude that we had at last got some news. God was hearing our prayers. There is, perhaps, a unique connection between Father Mick and Sisterr Judith. She was a member of the Carmelite community who were kidnapped many years ago from their monastery in Marawi City. The whole community was taken and held for five days. So she knows that experience personally. (The Marawi Carmel was subsequently closed, the nuns going to other Carmels. Sister Judith is now in the Carmel in San Fernando City, La Union). And so Father Mick was very much in the spoken prayers and the prayers of our hearts during the Mass.

‘My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we, too, should love one another . . . We are to love then, because God loved us first.’ (1st Letter of John) God’s faithful and ‘prior’ love for me was again challenging me as we prayed in the Prayers of the Faithful for Father Mick’s abductors. We prayed for their conversion and I remembered Paul’s words in Romans (today’s ferial Mass) – God’s hidden purpose by which He uses our very resistance for the good of others. So much mystery to be pondered again and again. God did give me peace as I once more surrendered to the journey that is not yet over. ‘I have carried you on eagle’s wing; I have cared for you in all your years.’ Yes, God is in all this and with tender love.

The day started off relatively quietly. But then the rumours began that there had been contact. I was able to do my own verification. In mid-afternoon I had a phone call from a news agency that calls me regularly. I was told that there was a video and I was informed of its contents. The person then emailed me some ‘stills’ from the video. It was clearly Father Mick. It is difficult for me to even try to describe my emotions. He was alive and he looked relatively well. The reporter asked me about ransom. I explained that we do not pay ransom and said that I did not believe it right that ransom should be paid. It adds to everyone else’s vulnerability. We all become ‘commodities’ rather than missionaries. I also said that it was my firm belief that Father Mick would be adamant that ransom should not be paid – far better that the money be used for the poor who had no proper food, no medical facilities and the many had no homes. He would insist that the money be used to set up other schools such as Hangop Kabataan, where the most forgotten (those with disabilities) can discover their dignity and their capabilities. Father Mick never thought of himself and I don’t believe he would be doing so now. I have repeated this many times today in different interviews.

There was a flurry of meetings then until I went to the Jubilee celebration of Sister Judith. The video appeared on National TV here in the early evening. I have now seen the video. Father Mick is reading a prepared statement. His voice is relatively strong. He even smiles at one point – seemingly at something those around him (unseen) are doing. There was a sense of relief to see him at all. But I also experienced a tremendous sadness at seeing him in this horrendous situation. I would believe that all of us would know that he did not write the statement of his own ‘volition’. Words like ‘indignity of it all’, ‘humiliation’, ‘exploitation’ sprang into my mind. But I also realized that he has not lost his gentleness which radiated through it all. He may be in a very undignified situation but he has not lost his dignity. He continues to be who he is – maybe even more so. God’s love is still flowing through him. I am aware that I could be accused of being ‘melodramatic’ (and if I am forgive me) but the image stuck – ‘Ecce homo’ (‘behold the man’). God is in this powerfully.

So, it was a day in which the ‘silence’ was broken and that is ‘good news’. But I am also acutely aware that the video is a week old and in the circumstances in which he is, that is a long time. Is his health continuing to hold up? I pray that it is. He said that he has some of his medication and that is encouraging. I hope that he will not be moved from place to place as his abductors try to ensure their own ‘security’. Yes, I am relieved but still concerned. God has allowed some light to shine in this and I am grateful. May the glimmer become the dawn and may the new day break soon when all this will be in the past.

Father Mick is now in his 21st night of captivity. We are entering in All Saints’ Day. May the saints join with all our prayer for Father Mick . And may that faithful God continue to keep him well in all ways.

Fr Michael Sinnott. Still from video of 24 October

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