Joy for the release of Fr Sinnott
Fr. Sinnott was kidnapped last October 11 at his home in Pagadian (Zamboanga) by a commando of seven armed men. To escape they Philippine army the kidnappers forced Fr. Sinnott, elderly and with a serious heart condition, to hike for a month in the jungle province of Lanao del Norte, located 150 km from Zamboanga.
"Immediately after the kidnap I was bundled onto a boast and brought to Lanai – says Fr. Sinnott - and here I was entrusted to two guards". "After crossing the swamps – he continues – they led me into the forest". He says that as his only shelter in the jungle were branches and he had a hammock as a bed, but he adds he was treated well by his kidnappers.
"I was kidnapped for ransom - said Fr Sinnott - the kidnappers always promised me that I would not be killed”. The priest adds that "despite what has happened to me I still want to work in the Philippines."
Fr. O'Donoghue, regional superior of the Society of St. Columba, said "This morning we learned with joy and gratitude of the news of the release of Fr. Sinnott", and that "in the coming days, we will decide where to assign him. For now he needs to rest and regain his strength".
In recent weeks the Columban missionaries in Pagadian and Zamboanga had organized prayer vigils and peaceful demonstrations to demand the release of the priest, involving Christians and Muslims.
In recent years, 13 foreign missionaries have been kidnapped or killed. Fr. Sinnott is the third priest of Irish order to be kidnapped. In 1997 Fr. Des Hartford was kidnapped by a group of Islamic rebels and freed after 12 days of captivity. A few years later in 2001 another missionary from Waterford, Fr Rufus Hally was killed during an attempted kidnapping. In 2007, MILF had brokered with the kidnappers for the release of PIME missionary Father Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped in Zamboanga and freed after 39 days of captivity.