Tuesday, January 26, 2010

After kidnapping, Irish priest back to his missionary work in Mindanao

Fr. Michael Sinnott. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 26, 2010) – Freed Irish Catholic priest Michael Sinnott has returned to his missionary work in the southern Philippines, two months after a harrowing ordeal in the hands of Moro rebels in the restive region of Mindanao.

The 80-year old Sinnott, who belongs to the Missionary Society of St. Columban, returned to Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province on Monday, reports said.

He immediately visited children staying at a charity house he founded in Pagadian City and vowed to continue his missionary works.

Sinnot arrived January 15 in Manila after a two-month vacation in Ireland following his release in November in Zamboanga City. “It’s very nice to be back and am looking forward to going back to my work in Pagadian,” Sinnot said shortly after his return.

Sinnott was taken by six gunmen on October 11 from his missionary house in Pagadian City and brought to Lanao province. The kidnappers demanded $2 million for his release, but Manila and Sinnott’s government said no ransom was paid and that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front helped secure the priest’s freedom.

“I was amazed when I came out of here there were a lot of people who prayed for me and I would like to thank them very, very sincerely from the bottom of my heart,” Sinnot said, adding, he would “like to do the little bit I can for as long as I can.”

Shortly after he was freed, Sinnott spoke with reporters at a Philippine Air Force base in Zamboanga City and told them his ordeal during his captivity. He said he was treated well by his captors, whom he identified as members of a “lost command” headed by Kikay. The priest said his captors told him that he was kidnapped because of ransom.

Sinnott was the third Irish missioner to be kidnapped in Mindanao since 1997. Father Des Hartford was held by Moro rebels for 12 days, and in 2001, Father Rufus Hally, a missioner from Waterford, was shot dead during an attempted abduction in Mindanao. (Becky de Asis contributed to this report)

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