Last weekend the Indian Church held a Day of Prayer for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the 55 year-old Salesian missionary from Kerala, kidnapped in Yemen last March.
The initiative was also joined Christian personalities of the
country, such as the Reverend Thomas Jacob, of St. Stephen's Church
(Church of North India, CNI) in Bandra, in the State of Maharashtra.
According to the motto "that they all may be one" [John 17, 21], the
local Protestant community united with Catholics accepting the
invitation to the prayer of the bishops.
"We prayed that Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil may soon be free and safe", Rev. Thomas Jacob stressed to AsiaNews.
"May God grant him health. We pray - added the Protestant leader - for
it to come home soon. We also pray for his captors, for a change of
their hearts and their transformation ".
After months of silence, at the end of December a video was posted
online showing Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian Indian kidnapped by an
extremist commando attributable to the Islamic State (IS) in early March
in southern Yemen.
In the video
posted online, the clergyman states his name and says, "I may need
Reading from a prepared text, he warns that his
captors have tried several times to contact the Indian government, the
president and the prime minister but "in vain" and that "nothing was
done" for his release.
For the past ten months, Fr Tom Uzhunnalil has been in the hands of
the Jihadi group, likely linked to IS, that stormed a home for the sick
and elderly run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern
Yemen. In the attack, four sisters of Mother Teresa and 12 other people were killed.
Called by the Bishops' Conference, at the request of the president of
the bishops Card. Baselios Cleemis, the day was held on January 21 and
22 depending on the activities of the individual dioceses.
In a note Fr. Thomas Toretkiu, secretary to the bishop, stressed that
the Church in India is "worried and distressed about the fate of Fr.
Tom ". Hence the appeal to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and
the highest authorities of the Government of India, to do all they can
to secure the release of a "generous and selfless priest".
Hundreds of people have joined the special prayer, followed by a
candlelight vigil, organized by Our Lady’s Cathedral Trivandrum (Kerala)
on January 21.
An initiative launched in response to the appeal of CBCI
President, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, who recalled "the anguish and
expectation" of the news of the "release" of the missionary for more
than 10 months in the hands of his kidnappers.