Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Abducted Catholic teachers freed
Handed to Philippines military after 43 days in captivity
Frederick Banot (left) and Cherden Masong (second from left) were believed to have been kidnapped by Islamic militants Abu Sayyaf (photo supplied)
- Joe Torres, Manila
- October 21, 2013
Two Catholic teachers abducted last month in the restive southern province Basilan have been released after 43 days captivity.
Frederick Banot, 24, and Cherden Masong, 25, of the Claretian Missionary Fathers were freed from the nearby island of Sulu and handed over to the Philippines military on Thursday evening, the missionary group said.
"We thank the Lord for this grace and we thank all those who have prayed for their safety," the Claretians said in a statement.
Gunmen believed to be from the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group abducted Banot and Masong on September 4 in the remote coastal town of Lantawan, in Basilan.
Heavily armed men on board a jungkung, a Malaysian vessel, came ashore and snatched Banot and Masong in the village of Tairan where they were helping the Badjaos, an indigenous sea gypsy tribe in the southern Philippines.
Banot and Masong, who work for the Claret Samal Foundation Inc's literacy program in the village, were staying in the staff house when the kidnapping occurred.
The Claretian missionaries did not give details about the negotiations that led to the release of the two Church workers.
Authorities said that they believe the abductors belong to Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic group which is notorious for high profile kidnappings in the area.
In 2000, Abu Sayyaf militants killed Claretian priest Rhoel Gallardo at the end of a six week hostage crisis that involved four teachers and 22 students of the Church-run Claret School of Tumahubong town in Basilan. The province is a well known stronghold of the group.