An elderly Irish nun has been attacked and injured by a masked man at her convent in Zamboanga del Sur.
Local police director Sofronio Ecaldre said that 70-year-old Kathleen Anne Melia was closing up the convent at the San Jose Parish Church in Midsalip when the attack occurred.
He said Sister Melia was attempting to close the window of the Sisters of Saint Columban convent at 9.25pm on Wednesday, March 1, when she was attacked by a masked man.
The man attempted to cover her mouth and punched her in the face during the attack. Sister Melia then fell to the ground unconscious before the man fled. She was later taken to hospital.
The missionary is originally from County Leitrim in the Irish Republic, but has been in the Philippines since 1983.
Sister Ann Gray, who knows Sr Melia from her work with the Sisters of St Columban in Wicklow, said her colleagues were “shocked and very concerned”.
“She has been working in that area for over 30 years with the indigenous populations and she was very close to the people there.
“She has always loved the people there. She always worked with a very mixed group of people in education, livelihood programmes and human rights programmes,” she said.
She added that she was confident that Sister Melia would be able to bounce back from the terrible incident.
“She will make a recovery as she is in very good hands over there with the help of other sisters. She is very well looked after,” she said.
The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs says that it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance through its honorary consulate in Manila and the Irish Embassy in Singapore.
Police investigations are continuing.