A Catholic missionary was abducted from his home on the evening of October 11 in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Four assailants burst into the Father Michael Sinnott at his residence while he was strolling in the garden. Dragging him to a waiting pickup truck, he was then trundled into a waiting speed boat at a local beach.
The whereabouts of the octogenarian priest, born in Ireland, are still unknown, while no group has yet to claim responsibility for the terrorist act. There are distinct suspicions that a Muslim terrorist group may be responsible, since priests and other Christian missionaries have been abducted or murdered in the past by Abu Sayyaf – an ally of the al Qaeda terrorist network. Groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have operated for decades in hopes of setting up a separate Muslim state.
Father Shay Cullen, a fellow Irishman and priest who leads PREDA – a child welfare and advocacy organization in the Philippines – called for prayers. Said Rev. Cullen in an email, “Please pray and use all contacts to spread the news and we demand that no violence are used by the authorities but peaceful negotiation be conducted for his release. We are with you Father Michael in Sprit and prayer.”
Father Michael Sinnott (80), a member of the Columban order, is originally from Barntown in County Wexford, Republic of Ireland. Ordained in 1954, he was assigned to Mindanao in the southern Philippines in 1957 following his studies in Rome. Rev. Sinnott served in Mindanao until 1966 before being assigned to the theology staff in Dalgan Park, Navan. He returned to the Philippines in 1976 where he has served in a variety of pastoral and administrative roles. Since 1998 he has been involved with a school for children with special needs.