In the Philippines, Christians Buddhists and Muslims have come together in the city of Pagadian on Mindanao Island to appeal for realse of Fr Michael Sinnott.

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Fr Mike as he is familiarly known to his parish, was abducted last Saturday. Regional Superior of the Columbans in the Philippines, Fr Pat O Donoghue, is in Pagadian to lead search efforts together with the local bishop.

Fr_Michael_Sinnott

Columban Fathers

source www.columban.com

Fr Donal Hogan (Columban Regional Director, Ireland): –

“We have been heartened by the many messages of support we have received during this difficult time. We ask you to continue to keep Fr Michael and his family in your prayers. Contrary to some reports there has been no contact between the kidnappers and the Columbans”

Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian

We are concerned. We are desperately trying we hope it will be in a day or two contact with Fr. Sinnott’s abductors. We urgently need to give them the medicine he needs. In the mean time, we are waiting and praying. We ask the entire Catholic community of the world to unite their prayers to ours. We know that the Holy Father is accompanying us and praying for Fr. Sinnott. We ask God’s help and call for concrete contributions for all men of good will that can provide useful information.

This is what Agenzia Fides was told by Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian, where on October 11, 80-year-old Irish Missionary of Saint Columban, Fr. Michael Sinnott, was abducted.

The Bishop told Fides:

There has still been no official contact established with the kidnappers. Various contradictory information has been going around and is yet to be verified. I recently met with the Crisis Team of the government and the army, which is working on the case. They have allocated funds and personnel to make every effort to find the missionary. We are still in the study phase. We are hoping for a peaceful solution to the ordeal, without a military attack or bloodshed. The objective is trying to save Fr. Sinnott’s life, along with the lives of his kidnappers. Every human life is sacred. We hope and pray for a negotiation that can lead to a peaceful solution.

In the meantime, the community in the area is working together:

Everyone is united to our appeal for his freedom. On Sunday, October 18, we organized a silent march in prayer, which passed by the mission where Fr. Sinnott lived and through the streets of Pagadian. Christians and Muslims walked side-by-side, all pleading for the life of Fr. Sinnott, a priest who was well-loved and respected by all. The Bishop concludes: I would like to remind the abductors that he is a consecrated man, a man of peace, a man who worked at the service of the poor and that they may free him, in this Year for Priests declared by the Pope, who reminds us of the respect, dignity, and precious work of priests.

(PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/10/2009)

Fr Michael Sinnott

Born in December 1929, Fr Michael is a native of Clonard Co. Wexford . He was ordained in 1954 and following studies in Rome, assigned to Mindanao, Philippines in 1957. He served in Mindanao until 1966 and was then assigned to the theology staff in Dalgan Park, Navan.

He returned to Philippines in 1976 where he has served in a variety of pastoral and administrative roles.

Since 1998 he has been involved with The Centre and School for Special Children which he established.

The Bishop of Pagadian Manny Cabajar and Columban Regional Director Fr Pat ODonoghue are in touch with local authorities following up the kidnapping.

We request your prayers for the safe return of Fr Michael.

The Hangop Kabataan Community Based Rehabilitation Programme for Children with Disabilities was founded in 1998 by Fr Michael.

Hangop Kabatataan means reaching out to children and the programme was a response to the lack of educational and rehabilitation facilities for children with disabilities in Pagadian area.

The centre caters to around sixty children who attend daily. About one third of these have been diagnosed as autistic, while the rest have other mental and physical disabilities.

In addition there is an outreach programme which visits around twenty children in their homes.

From the begininning the underlying philosophy of the school has been that of empowerment. Before the programme began Fr Michael had noticed that many children with disabilities were kept at home and lacked any opportunity to develop skills and any level of independence:

The parents did not know what to do with their children, most were confined to their homes, and the parents from some false sense of guilt were over compensating feeding, washing and helping then with their toilet needs.

For me the biggest improvement in the children was the development of their confidence and I think of their own dignity and importance. I think the atmosphere of support, love and concern in the centre has given them a greater realisation and sense of their own dignity as persons, in so far they can understand this.

The school is non-denominational, and is staffed by 5 teachers, a secretary, bookkeeper and a driver. It has also one volunteer-teacher, lay missionary and a livelihood teacher.