Vatican, Sep 13, 2017 : Liberated Salesian missionary Father Tom Uzhunnalil bowed down to kiss the feet of Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence this morning, after today’s weekly general audience.
The Holy Father welcomed the Indian missionary who was freed yesterday after being held captive for 18 months by Islamist militants in Yemen.
The Pope immediately raised Father Tom to his feet, embraced and encouraged him, assuring the priest he would continue to pray for him as he had done during his captivity, according to L’Osservatore Romano. The Vatican newspaper added that the Pope was “visibly moved, and blessed him.”
For his part Father Tom, as he is familiarly known, thanked the Pontiff, saying he had “prayed every day for him, offering his own suffering for his mission and for the good of the Church.” The words “touched the Pope,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.
The religious, who was kidnapped on March 4, 2016 in a terrorist attack at a residential home of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, also said he was “not able to celebrate the Eucharist,” but every day, he repeated “in my heart, all the words of the celebration.”
Father Tom promised to now continue "to pray for all” who had supported him “spiritually,” and remembered in particular the four sisters of the Missionaries of Charity and the twelve people killed at the time of his abduction.
He expressed special gratitude to the Omani government which helped secure his release, as did the Holy See in a statement released yesterday.
Accompanying the Salesian today was Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay. “After this terrible experience, the essential message that Father Tom would like to convey is that ‘Jesus is great and loves us,’” the cardinal said.
courtesy:National Catholic Register