Brother of kidnapped Salesian stays home in prayer, awaits ‘good news’

Mathew Uzhunnalil, brother of kidnapped Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, poses with his prayer book at his home in Ramapuram, India. (CNS/Anto Akkara)

Mathew Uzhunnalil, brother of kidnapped Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, poses with his prayer book at his home in Ramapuram, India. (CNS/Anto Akkara)

By Anto Akkara
Catholic News Service

RAMAPURAM, India (CNS) — The Indian government might have dispelled rumors of the Good Friday crucifixion of kidnapped Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, but Mathew Uzhunnalil still worries.

“I am waiting for clear good news. Until then, I will stay at home,” Mathew Uzhunnalil, 73, told Catholic News Service from his ancestral house in Ramapuram.

For more than a month — since his brother was kidnapped  in Aden, Yemen, in early March — Mathew Uzhunnalil has lived alone, with no TV or radio, in the house tucked in the midst of rubber plantations. He said he will return to his family in Gujarat “only after I have clear news about Father Tom,” his 56-year-old younger brother.

Mathew Uzhunnalil said many people have come to visit and have told him how the Indian foreign minister said his brother was safe. The government also assured a delegation from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India that the government was exploring all possible means for his “quick and safe release.”

“A lot of people are coming here (to the house) and even hold prayer meetings (for the safety of the priest),” he told CNS.

“I pray, recite the rosary and read,” Mathew Uzhunnalil replied when asked how he spent time in the home, where all the eight Uzhunnalil siblings were born.

“Leave everything in God’s hands and trust in him. Everything is secure in God’s hands,” Mathew Uzhunnalil said, quoting a book his sister gave him years ago.

Reflecting on the deep faith of younger brother, Mathew Uzhunnalil said, “Father Thomas is a very cool and quiet person.”

He recalled that his brother shared what he used to tell the Missionaries of Charity in the evenings at the old-age home in Aden, where four nuns and 12 others were killed when the priest was kidnapped March 4.

“We got one more day today. Let us thank God for that,” Mathew Uzhunnalil said, quoting the kidnapped priest.

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