Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil is freed
The Salesian priest had been kidnapped by Islamic terrorists in Aden in 2016 when four Sisters of Mother Teresa were murdered. The vicar of southern Arabia and the president of the Indian Bishops' Conference thank the governments that have helped in securing his release and all those who have prayed for his release. The thanksgiving of Sr. Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity: Fr. Tom's photo was placed on the Mother's tomb.
Mascotte (AsiaNews) - Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian abducted in 2016 in Aden, has been released, according to Msgr. Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia. The vicariate website says that "The bishop thanks all those who have been involved in the release efforts and all those who in the world have been praying incessantly for the healthy release of Fr. Tom ". Bishop Hinder reserves the right to provide further information later on. The Oman government was instrumental in the release of the priest.
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. According to information from the Indian government, he is now in Oman, from where he will be transferred to India.
President of the Indian Bishop's Conference, Cardinal Isaac Cleemis Thottunkal, told AsiaNews, "We are all grateful and joyful to all involved in the process of securing the release of Fr Tom, especially the Government of India and the State Government and to all people of good will, who prayed for the safety and the release of Fr Tom. As a church in India, we are grateful to Pope Francis and the Holy see for releasing our dream in getting the release of Fr Tom".
Sr. Mary Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, whose sisters had Fr. Tom as their chaplain in Aden, has issued a statement saying: "I am overwhelmed with this good news. And I praise God for his Mercy. We had never given up hope that one day father Tom would be released. His photograph is fixed on the tomb of mother. The sisters , the poor and the people have been praying daily for his release. We give all glory to God and we thank all those who prayed and worked tirelessly for father Tom's release".