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In His Time
By Neil Fernandes
Mumbai, Dec. 12. NASHIK: ''In His time, He makes all things beautiful, in His time,'' was the main message of Father Tom Uzhunnalil when he visited Divyadaan, Nashik, on December 9.
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Father Uzhunnalil arrived at Divyadaan at 1:15pm, along with Father M K George from the Bangalore province of the Salesians of Don Bosco and Father Savio Silveira, vice provincial of the province of Mumbai, after a meeting with Bishop Lourdes Daniel of the Nasik diocese.  

At 2 pm, the Divyadaan brothers along with the Capuchins, the Salesian novices, Salesian sisters (FMA), FMA novices, priests from the neighbouring communities, parishioners, ADMA and a few other religious assembled for a felicitation programme and an interactive session with Father Uzhunnalil.  

The FYBPh brothers set the tone of the programme with a chorale, 'Christ Be Our Light.' Thereafter Father Robert Pen of the community, formally welcomed the guests. In his introductory talk, Father Pen compared Father Uzhunnalil to a martyr and called him ''a martyr who has roared back to life.'' Father Pen, then, went on to felicitate the guests.

Father Uzhunnalil addressed the gathering, beginning with his testimony. Father thanked all those who prayed for his release, especially the people of other faiths. He then narrated the history of the mission at Yemen, and how the sisters survived solely on Divine Providence. He also recalled the events of the fateful day March 4, 2016; when after Eucharistic Adoration he heard gunshots, was taken prisoner and witnessed the death of the Missionary of Charity sisters.  

Father Uzhunnalil mentioned being transported to a safe house in the trunk of a car. He joked that it was quite comfortable. He further explained the daily routine of his life for the next 18 months in captivity, which included prayer, food and a lot of sleep. There were also times when he was made to act in videos that were doctored by the terrorists. ''Nothing will happen without the knowledge of your Heavenly Father,'' these words from the Gospel gave him strength and he was never afraid of being killed.  

Father Uzhunnalil said his captors never ill-treated him, but took care of all his needs. He then spoke of how, on September 10, he received the news of his release and finally on September 12, he was transported to Oman and then to Rome. He ended by saying that God has a plan for us, which will be revealed in His time. His final message was, ''Share the love of God in whichever way he calls you.''

After this, Father George shared his experience in Yemen, where he was a parish priest. The Al-Qaeda had attacked his Church and killed the care-taker. They contacted Father George during the execution of the care-taker, Ali. Father George was terrified and knew that they would come for him. He was in shock, shivering and unable to speak, until he prayed to God, ''Let Your will be done'' and all the shivering ceased. He escaped from the parish but was always in fear until he reached the capital of Yemen. A few days later, he received news that his parish was taken over by the terrorists, but luckily the sisters working there were transported elsewhere. He, too, emphasised on surrendering oneself to God's will.

Thereafter, there was an interactive session, wherein the audience put forth a few questions to Father Uzhunnalil on the nature of his state while in captivity. Father Uzhunnalil responded with serenity to all the questions. When asked what God's plan was for him now, he simply replied, ''To testify that our God is a living God.'' He also said the only thing that one can do, to help all those taken captive by terrorists, is pray. It helped him and he believes that it will help others, too.

The two great missionaries testified about their faith in God's Providence and kindled a missionary fire in everyone's hearts especially all the youngsters in formation.


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