Kidnapped Irish priest to leave PH for good

Posted at 07/18/12 7:13 PM

But Sinnott has no regrets about serving in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines - An Irish missionary kidnapped and freed by armed bandits in 2009 will leave the Philippines with a heavy heart.

Father Michael Sinnott of the Society of St. Columban will leave for his home country Ireland on Friday, CBCP News reported.

Armed men abducted Sinnott from his house in Pagadian City on October 11, 2009. The bandits forced him to walk up the mountains even if he had a serious heart condition. He was, at that time, 79 years old.

Soldiers were deployed and road blocks were set up to block the escape route of the bandits, believed to be Abu Sayyaf members.

He was finally released in a coastal village in Zamboanga City after a month. He was subsequently brought to the Columban’s regional house in Manila and was never assigned again in Mindanao.

In a send-off party Tuesday night at the Malate Church, Sinnott said he had difficulties choosing between retiring in the Philippines or in Ireland.

“It really was a very difficult decision to make. I realized that I’m going home and not going back, but I still think I made the right decision that there is really nothing more I can do here in Manila, that there’s more I can do at home,” Sinnott said.

He arrived in Mindanao in the 1950s, where he saw poverty and armed conflicts affecting the lives of people.

“I will leave a big part of my heart here in the Philippines and I will always remember the people that I met and helped me,” he said.

Sinnott said he is not sorry for having served in the Philippines.

“For the long time that I’ve been here… it’s been a privilege for me to serve the people of the Philippines and I learned a lot more from them more than I gave, especially from the ordinary people for their goodness and their faith,” he said.

“I also would like to thank the Columbans for their support. We sometimes have arguments but I have to say that every time I was in trouble, they were always there to help me,” he added.