14th September 2017: The Bangalore Archdiocese, the Catholic Religious of India Bangalore Unit and the Salesians of Bangalore Province came together at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral at 5 pm on Thursday to thank the Lord for the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunalil SDB, abducted in Yemen 18 months ago.
The Holy Eucharist was presided over by Rt. Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras, the Archbishop of Bangalore with most of the other Bishops of the different dioceses of Karnataka (Most Rev Gerald Issac Lobo from Udupi Diocese, Most Rev Francis Serrao from Shimoga Diocese, Most Rev Derek Fernandes from Karwara, Most Rev Michael Miranda from Kulaburgi, Most Rev. Thomasappa Anthony Swamy from Chikkamangaluru, Most Rev Henry D’ Souza from Bellary, Most Rev William from Mysore Diocese, Most Rev Lawrance Mukkuzhy from Belthangady Diocese, Most Rev Mar Joseph Aruma Chadath from Bhadravathi Diocese) and hundreds of priests concelebrating. Over two thousand devotees including sisters and seminarians participated in the Holy Eucharist and the ensuing thanksgiving adoration. The Archbishop in the homily recalled that Fr. Tom had worked for some time each in different dioceses in Karnataka such as Bhadavathi, Chikmangalore and Bangalore Archdiocese. He appreciated all those who were instrumental in the release efforts of Fr. Tom, both religious and ecclesiastical.
Immediately after the Holy Mass a short Eucharistic Adoration service was held during which the faithful thanked and praised the Lord for the safe release of Fr. Tom. Fr. Joyce Thonikuzhiyil, the Provincial of Bangalore province addressed the faithful and thanked everyone for praying for Fr. Tom. He made special mention of the interest and earnestness with which the Holy Father, the Major superiors of the Salesian congregation, the Sultan of Oman and authorities in Yemen, Prime minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former Chief Minister of Kerala Umman Chandi and the present Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan, the CBCI, its leadership and KCBC all worked together for the release of Fr. Tom. He made a special mention of the support extended by the Archdiocese of Bangalore and the paternal support extended by the Archbishop during the 18 months of tension and anguish after the abduction of Fr. Tom.
Fr. Jose Koyickal, the Vice Provincial of Bangalore Province and chief organizer of the event welcomed the gathering. The brothers of Kristu Jyoti College, from where Fr. Tom is a past pupil organized the liturgy and choir under the guidance of Fr. Moncy Nellikkunel.
The programme came to a close at 6- 30 pm with the Eucharistic blessing (Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament). Sweets were distributed outside the church underlining the sentiments of joy of everyone who thronged the cathedral to thank the Lord for the release of Fr. Tom.
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