Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, Salesian Priest Held Captive in Yemen, Speaks to SJND Classes
Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest from Kerala, India held captive by terrorists in Yemen for 557 days, spoke to SJND students on September 18 during his first trip to the U.S. since his release one year ago.
On March 4, 2016, a group of unidentified gunmen barged into an elderly care home run by the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in Yemen. The gunmen killed 16 persons, including four Sisters, and kidnapped Fr. Tom who was serving as Chaplain. What followed was 557 days in captivity in some unknown locations until he was released on September 12, 2017. Following his release, Fr. Tom was taken to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. Fr. Tom’s story of faith, forgiveness and survival is chronicled in his autobiography, By the Grace of God.
Rev. George Alengadan, pastor of St. Joseph Basilica, met with Fr. Tom, a longtime friend in January and invited him to the United States. Father George helped coordinate his visit to both SJND and St. Joseph Elementary middle school classes.
Fr. Tom Uzhannalil with Fr. George Alengadan. Courtesy Catholic Voice.
During his visit to SJND theology classes, Fr. Tom told the story of his ordeal in Yemen and his experience meeting Popes Benedict and Francis. Today, Fr. Tom explained, he considers it his mission to tell about the power of faith and prayer, as evidenced by his extraordinary story.
Fr. Tom will serve as the Guest of Honor at the 10 a.m. Mass at Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland on September 30. The Mass, which marks the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral, will be celebrated by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.