09/29/2017, 13.26
YEMEN - UAE - INDIA
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Vicar of Arabia: On 2 October, thanksgiving and prayers for Fr. Tom

Bishop Hinder invokes a day of thanksgiving for the Feast of Guardian Angels for the "unexpected" release of the Indian Salesian. He was "specially protected" for the duration of his abduction. Those who can not participate in the masses "will pray in their homes". Now it is necessary to keep "a low profile".

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - Throughout his kidnapping, "the faithful participated in the Mass and prayers" for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian Salesian abducted in Yemen in March 2016. That's why, after his release on September 12, "we think it's right to devote a day to thanksgiving" that embraces the entire territory, says Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (UAE, Oman and Yemen), presenting the "Day of Thanksgiving" organized by the Vicariate to celebrate the priest's "unexpected" release after more than 18 months.

"One way to thank not just the NGOs and the governments they have contributed - adds the prelate - but above all God who has watched over and protected him."

The Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer will be held on October 2, in conjunction with the Feast of Guardian Angels and will involve all the parish churches with worship, prayer and adoration. Those unable to participate in the masses "because it is still a day of work", underlined Msgr. Hinder, "will hold moments of prayer in their homes." "I chose the day dedicated to our guardian angel - he adds – because Fr. Tom was specially protected in a very difficult situation. "

Fr. Tom was abducted on March 4, 2016 in the nursing home belonging to Mother Teresa’s order in Aden. Four nuns and 12 others were killed In the attack, attributed to al –Qaeda affiliates. Fr Tom, 57, was born in Ramapuram, near Pala (Kottayam, Kerala), into a deeply Catholic family. His uncle Mathew, who died in 2015, also Salesian, is the founder of the mission in Yemen.

At the time of his abduction Fr. Tom had been in Yemen for four years. The mediator role played by Omman was decisive in his release, who received in the following hours the praise and thanks of the Holy See. And just in the Vatican two days after the release Fr. Tom was able to meet and embrace Pope Francis.

Emphasizing once more the "mediation" role of Omman in the release of Fr. Tom, thanks to his "relatively neutral" position among the various "groups and trends within the Muslim world", Msgr. Hinder speaks of a "liberation that was a relief for everyone". "The kidnappers - continued the prelate - took care of him, giving him the medicines needed for diabetes. This shows they did not intend to kill him, though they were still ready to do anything. "

The priest, he adds, "always felt himself to be in the hands of God and was not afraid. I am convinced that it was his deep faith that helped him, a faith that may have impressed his own kidnappers, that we can not rule out. He is a really balanced man."

For the apostolic vicar, Christians from all over the region "will participate in the celebrations, so many will do it privately. In these months many faithful revealed they were fasting and saying prayers made with the special intention of asking for his release. " We are all relieved, concludes the prelate, who calls, however, to maintain "a low profile" as it is "in the nature and mind of the same Fr. Tom "because this" is the most effective way to carry out our mission in this land. "(DS)

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