Columban Fr Michael Sinnott, kidnapped in 2009, retiring to Ireland
Fr Michael Sinnott arriving in Dublin in December 2009 after his release
The website of the Catholic Bishops's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) carried this story yesterday.
July 18, 2012— An Irish missionary kidnapped and freed by gunmen in
2009 in Mindanao is leaving the Philippines for good.
Father Michael Sinnott of the Society of St. Columban is leaving for Ireland
Friday and will retire there after many years of serving the Catholic
Church and various communities in Mindanao.
In a send-off party held at the Malate Church on Tuesday night, Sinnott
admitted how difficult it was for him to decide whether to retire in the
Philippines or in his native land.
Greeted by President Gloria M. Arroyo the day of his release, 12 November 2009
“It really was a very difficult decision to make. I realized that I’m going
home and not going back but I still think I made the right decision
that there is really nothing more I can do here in Manila that there’s
more I can do at home,” Sinnott said.
“I will live a big part of my heart here in the Philippines and I will
always remember the people that I met and helped me,” he said.
At a press conference after being released.
His 58 years as a missionary has given Sinnott a unique window into the
heart of a people that have lived through poverty, armed conflicts, and
the daily struggles of too little food and too little hope for the
When he arrived in Mindanao in the 1950s, he was a young priest only few years out of the seminary.
“After ordination two of us were sent to Rome and we know that time that one
of us would be going to Japan and one to the Philippines but we don’t
know who…,” he said.
“I was delighted when I got my appointment to the Philippines and I’ve never been sorry ever since,” said Sinnott.
Working in one of the country’s poorest region was hard, he said but it was all worth it.
In Manila a few days after his release
On October 11, 2009, heavily armed men abducted Sinnott from his house in
Pagadian City and was forced to walk into the mountains despite having a
serious heart condition.
Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants and insurgents from the larger Moro Islamic
Liberation Front have a presence in the vast Zamboanga peninsula.
He was released in a coastal village in Zamboanga City after a month in captivity and without carrying his medication.
Since then, Sinnott was brought to the Columban’s regional house in Manila and was never assigned again in Mindanao.
“For the long time that I’ve been here… it’s been a privileged for me to
serve the people of the Philippines and I learned a lot more from them
more than I gave, especially from the ordinary people for their goodness
and their faith,” he said.
“I also would like to thank the Columbans for their support. We sometimes
have an arguments but I have to say that everytime I was in trouble they
were always there to help me,” said Sinnott. [RL/CBCPNews]