By Rev. Tommy Murphy, SSC
November 19, 2009
As St. Columban's Day approaches we will be gathering this year with a special sense of gratitude for the safe release of Michael Sinnott. The news of his release was greeted with relief and thanksgiving by people all over the world who had followed his ordeal with concern, interest and prayers during the previous thirty two days. His own immediate family were overjoyed to hear from an official at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that Michael was no longer in custody and was in safe hands.
Michael’s subsequent appearances on TV screens around the world and his radio interviews have been marked by common sense, a touch of humour and a total lack of self-pity. People have been struck by the integrity of the man and were impressed to hear him say that all he now wanted to do was to return to his work in Pagadian. Many also have commented on the gracious attitude he displayed towards his captors and his lack of rancour at being subjected to this ordeal. We are proud of Michael on the way he has come through this ordeal and on the manner in which he has conducted himself since been freed.
Michael’s experience highlights once again the fact that from the very beginning of our Society, being a Columban missionary at times meant putting one’s life in danger. Many Columbans in the past have suffered what Michael has endured and twenty three of them have lost their lives violently as a result of their ministry. However, this reality has never stopped Columbans from committing themselves to Columban mission priorities in the various Regions or Mission Units where they were assigned. When we look at Michael’s life and his recent experience we can see the evidence of some core Columban ideals present here. There is something here that all of us strive for and hold up as ideals for ourselves. Indeed many Columban Missionaries live out these ideals in quiet lives of unheralded ministry and service. St Columban’s day is an appropriate moment to acknowledge this reality and to celebrate it.
May St Columban continue to accompany us all on our missionary journey.