.- A Florida priest who was stabbed in a confessional by a troubled woman on Saturday says he will neither “live in fear” nor allow the stabbing to prevent him from “God’s work.”
Fr. Michael Massaro had finished hearing confessions in Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach on Saturday when he was stabbed twice in the back. “I was in the confessional, putting my coat on, and felt a piercing sensation in my back left side," the priest told CNN. "I looked up and she was standing there, and I felt it again in my back. Then I realized I was stabbed and my hand was covered with blood."
"It was paralyzing, like a nightmare, and I just feel like I woke up from it. It was so quick and sudden.”
His accused attacker, 57-year-old Josephine Gatchell, had previously been arrested for damaging a religious statue at the church. After the attack, she stared at him, but said nothing.
"As I was running away from her, I realized who she was," Fr. Massaro said. "She didn't make any efforts to come after me. I was still in a state of shock."
He fled to his car and drove himself to the hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair the damage. His “T”-shaped wounds required 14 staples.
According to CNN, a Vero Beach police arrest affidavit reported the knife went though muscle, a few veins and chipped a rib. Its blade missed vital organs by two to three centimeters.
Vero Beach Police spokesman John Morrison said Gatchell believed Fr. Massaro was the Antichrist.
An arrest affidavit says Gatchell told detectives she remembered stabbing Fr. Massaro with “a big knife.” Police said Gatchell appears to be a troubled woman.
She is being held without bail in the Indian River County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned on June 12.
Fr. Massaro told CNN the attack would not stop him from hearing confessions.
"We're at the mercy of the people we serve," Massaro said. "We can't live in fear. God has asked us to live in trust. If it's going to happen again, it's going to happen again, but that's not going to prevent me from doing God's work."
CNA contacted the parish for further comment and was told Fr. Massaro was recuperating and did not want to give any further statements.