Kidnapped priest (81) gets humanitarian award
AN elderly priest who endured being kidnapped by Filipino rebels was unable to pick up a humanitarian award because he is back at work in the troubled country.
Dedication to his work kept Fr Michael Sinnott from accepting the Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty Humanitarian Award in person. He said he felt "deeply honoured" but "very unworthy" to be the recipient of the award which was presented at the weekend in Killarney.
It was accepted on his behalf by the vice-president of the Columban Missionaries in Ireland, Fr Pat Raleigh.
Fr Raleigh said Fr Sinnott had ruled out returning to Ireland because of the expense, and at 81 his age was also a factor.
Fr Raleigh said: "When I emailed him in the Philippines to tell him about the award, he said he was deeply honoured to receive it because he looked at it as recognition for the work of Columban missionaries all over the world."
Fr Sinnott sent an email to his order which read: "Naturally I feel deeply honoured by it but also very unworthy. I accept it as a tribute not only to myself but also to the countless Irish missionaries all over the world who labour tirelessly trying to alleviate the conditions of the poor, oppressed and marginalised and to right the injustices done to them."
The fearless priest returned to the Philippines in January, just two months after he had been abducted at gunpoint by kidnappers in Pagadian City on October 11.
After a 31-day ordeal where he was left without his vital heart medication, Fr Sinnott was freed. He returned to Ireland for two months to rest and visit his family but Fr Raleigh said he was always anxious to return to Hangop Kabataan, an outreach centre for young people with special needs that he set up in 1998.