September 12, 2017

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian Priest Kidnapped by ISIS Terrorists During Yemen Attack Last Year, is Freed

Father Tom Uzhunnalil

Salesian Indian missionary Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, seized more than eighteen months ago in Yemen by a group of ISIS guerrillas, has been released. According to Indian media, the Salesian priest is now in Muscat, Oman on his way to India. Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, announced his freedom in a Sept. 12th tweet reading: "I am happy to inform that Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued."

The Catholic Herald reporting on his release, recalled the attack: "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."

His international profile increased when rumors spread that he was to be crucified on Good Friday, which were later discredited. For many months, following his capture, Fr. Uzhunnalil's martyrdom seemed imminent. Since then, numerous photos and videos have been released featuring Fr. Tom, looking gaunt and with an overgrown beard, pleading for help and for his release on medical grounds.

"I'm overwhelmed [with joy] for this good news," commented Sister Mery Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, whose sisters in Aden had Fr. Tom as a chaplain, "And praise God for his mercy. We never abandoned the hope that one-day Fr. Tom would be released. His photograph is fixed on Mother Teresa's tomb. The sisters, the poor and the people prayed every day for his release. We give glory to God and thank all those who prayed and worked untiringly for the release of Fr. Tom."

Thanks be to God for the release of Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil. We remember with great reverence the martyrdoms of Sister Anselm, Sister Reginette, Sister Judith and Sister Marguerite who answered hatred with deep faith. Now, standing at the throne of God and seeing Him face to face, may they intercede for us in heaven.

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