Catholic media channels are reporting on welcome news: the Salesian priest originally from Kerala (India), Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, has been freed on 12th September, thanks to the intervention of the Sultan of Oman and the competent authorities of the Sultanate.
Fr Tom was kidnapped when his care home in the Yemeni city of Aden was attacked in March 2016. Four gunmen posing as relatives of one of the residents killed four Indian nuns, two Yemeni staff members, eight elderly residents and a security guard.
Fr Tom has clearly been “in hell on earth” during his 18 months of captivity somewhere in Yemen at the mercy of the Islamist militants. Look at the difference in these two pictures, the first taken before he was kidnapped (left) and used to illustrate a prayer campaign begging for his release… and the second during his long ordeal (below on the right) when he was in the hands of the terrorists.
It was reported in a statement from the Vatican that Fr Tom would be staying in Rome for a few days before returning home to India.
In a Sept. 12 statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India expressed “its immense joy” on the news of the priest’s release.
“As we thank God for this unique grace bestowed on Fr. Tom and his family and the Salesian Congregation (The Society of Don Bosco) and the Catholic Church in India, we pray for his continued good health and complete recovery to resume active Salesian ministry for God and His people in his Congregation and the Church,” the statement from Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, read. “As we express our profound gratitude to God, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India wants to place on record its immense gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Srimati Sushma Swaraj the Minister of External Affairs and the Government of India for persistently and perseveringly working to obtain the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil.”
“Fr. Tom’s release gives immense joy to the Catholic Church in India and the Salesian Family and all the people of India and we place on record our gratitude to all for their immense faith in God and persevering prayers that God in his goodness and mercy has heard and answered. We thank all men and women of good will who stood with us with prayer and encouragement.”