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Kidnap victim: my faith kept me going through ordeal

By on Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Patrick Noonan

Patrick Noonan

A Catholic aid worker who was kidnapped for three months in Sudan has told The Catholic Herald that his faith kept him going and that he refused to convert to Islam.

Patrick Noonan, a 48-year-old former soldier from Bradford, was kidnapped by anti-government rebels in South Darfur on March 6 and kept in chains and fed only oranges and camel milk during part of his three-month captivity.

Mr Noonan said: “I was isolated in a corner in approximately two metre by one and a half metres, in chains, stripped naked. I’m a devout Catholic, I used to pray in the mornings and the evening even before I was kidnapped, and then four times a day when I was kidnapped.

“I just thought about my family, my faith. It was definitely my faith that got me through, and being raised in a council estate in Bradford, as well as the military background.”

During his ordeal, he said, one of his Muslim captors would pray beside him. “One guy spoke perfect English and he was a devout Muslim and he would stand either side of the partition, and he tried to convert me to Islam, offered me two wives, and to fight for the rebels. He tried twice, and I told him I believed in Jesus Christ and I could have only have only one wife, and I could not fight because I work for the United Nations and am a neutral.”

Mr Noonan spent 23 years as a soldier with the Prince of Wales Regiment, and afterwards worked for the UN in Iraq from 2005.
At one point, after two months on oranges and water from a well, he was seriously unwell, and survived because of “a significant experience… which convinced me that we have a guardian angel”.

He said: “Around the third week in April I was feeling extremely weak. This particular day I was feeling extremely weak, I had chest pains with the temperature approximately 45 degrees in the canvas shelter. I thought I was going to die and fell asleep (I don’t know how long I was asleep for), I woke up so strong with a voice going through my head saying ‘these people are not big enough to beat me’.

“The week before I was kidnapped, I had spoken to my aunt in Dublin telling her I would see her over the St Patrick’s weekend. When I was released and arrived in England, I was informed by my mother that my aunt had died on April 4, therefore I am convinced that the person that kept me alive was my dead aunt.”

  • John McCarthy

    Well done Patrick! A great example of Faith.

  • KiwiNZ1

    “…feeling extremely weak  I had chest pains with the
    temperature approximately 45 degrees in the canvas shelter. I thought I
    was going to die and fell asleep” 

    He was also suffering from poor diet, and stress, not really surprising he heard voices, from his own subconcious,

    A great example of delusion in extremis.  And faith also, of course, which is the mind accepting something as true without verification.

    Note that personal experience is no basis for believing something to be true. Patrick’s delusion gives him a convenient framework to explain his experiences. That’s what religion is for after all.

  • Nesbyth

    Oh dear, how negative you are.
    There are many accounts of metaphysical experiences and spiritual encounters. You are very “superior” to write them off as delusions in extremis.

  • KiwiNZ1

     Hi no, not negative, just concerned about the truth. I know there are many accounts of  the type you mention. These are probably quite vivid to the person experiencing them. That does not make them real. For example, people have very strong impressions of an hallucinatory nature, seeing and feeling insects on their skin, or hearing voices, or believing themselves to be Napolean. You would not say he was really Napolean, or that the insects were really there, just because they really strongly believed them to be.

    This sounds like a case of delusion. Quite understandable given the circumstances. I am not being “superior” either, just clear. Do you really believe everything someone says they experienced really happened ? That’s called gullability.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    You don’t know what you are talking about.

  • Kevin

    How do you know he was kidnapped?

  • Kevin

    “the mind accepting something as true without verification”

    How do you know he was kidnapped?

  • KiwiNZ1

     Hi, well I’m talking about the article and the claims made in it. I read the article, so this seems to contradict your statement.

  • KiwiNZ1

    Hi Kevin, good question. I’m just going by the evidence in the article’s title:
    “Kidnap victim: my faith kept me going through ordeal” and the text of the article which begins: “A Catholic aid worker who was kidnapped…” Is this evidence enough for you ? I don’t technically “know” he was kidnapped, but this seems like reasonable evidence of a reasonable claim. What isn’t reasonable is a claim that voices heard in these circumstances are real.

  • Master Baker

    Boring. I think most people with a faith had considered the point you make before you even made it. They probably even considered it with regards to their own experiences years before reading about this one.

    If his experiences of life and the paths he follows help him and give him a soothing hope, false or not, who are you to try and convince him not too? It seems pretty lowly that you try to take something, in this case – faith, that belongs to another just because you dont have it.

  • MargaretStClaire

    Nice. The new “wise masters” I agree are getting a tad dull now. They read one or two books on their kindle whilst drinking a coffee on the high street and they think they are right because they pick up some new words. I dont care what their opinion is – its not going to change the way I live so their argument even if it is right is impotent. I’m not converting to Islam even though I am told its right by people who study and devote their lives - why should I listen to internet anti-theist preachers who probably spend their daytime at work in the record shop and their remaning four hours either reading “philosophy for dummies” or getting a lifetime of wisdom from a “startling” documentary? 

    Additionally, I never saw a 6 million jews getting killed in the holocaust. I only know from the testaments of others that this many died therefore the holocaust (at least to the degree we are taught) didn’t actually happen. A crude point I know, but it proves that the exprience argument is applicable to most things, is very old and can be insulting. Sometimes you just have to take it or leave it and not try to change what people want to beleive. After all, if they want to beleive it’s up to them thats the wonder of living in the modern world – choice. If you want not to beleive go for it but dont bore me anymore.

    Sorry about the rant – no personal insult intended!

  • Anne

    Catholics do not believe in their dead relatives helping them! That is tantamount to Spiritualism.  The strength and the voice came from Jesus. He alone has the power. May His Holy Name be praised!.

  • Amkennedypayen

    I’m just very happy that Mr. Patrick Noonan survived this dreadful ordeal and eventually returned safely to his family.

  • Knight

    Indeed. It illustrates perfectly that the strongest faith will always be the one that is adhered to of ones own free will. Throughout the centuries the islamic ideology has only been able to spread through threats, fear, violent aggression and conquest. That, surely, is the work of Lucifer.

  • Irene

    thus great patric your faith saved u