Priest freed after 18 months of abduction: “I thanked God for each new day of life”

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil recounted his 18 months of hell.

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil is now free after 18 months of abduction in Yemen. Sixty-six pounds lighter and with his mind psychologically pushed to the limit, the Salesian missionary burst into tears as he remembered the four Missionaries of Charity and 12 elders killed during his abduction.

“After God, of course, before thanking the Lord, I see the Missionaries of Charity. My condolences to…”

The priest says that his abductors did not mistreat him and he could not find out to which terrorist group they belonged, or if they belonged to one.

He says that he spent his days praying, thanking God for every new day of life He gave him.

“I thank God for that day: Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not sure, give me grace to live this day well. That sometimes and before going to sleep or when night comes and everyone sleeps, I thank the Lord. Morning comes, I thank the Lord for this day. So no other worry was in me.”

After his release, the missionary was transferred to Rome. In the Eternal City he was able to participate in a meeting that he will never forget: one with the pope.

“I have not personally come to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, anytime before. The pope is the vicar of Christ and I think in that meeting, the pope kissed my hand and I never deserved it. I’m really grateful to God for his blessings, I’m sure he would have prayed or spent much time for me.”

Fr. Tom will stay in the Vatican to receive the medical care he needs. As soon as he recovers, he will return to India to serve the people there.