An Irish missionary nun who was injured in an assault in the Philippines has been hospitalised in the city of Ozamiz and will require surgery in Manilla.
Sister Kathleen Melia (70), who is originally from Co Leitrim, has worked as a missionary in the Philippines for over 30 years.
She has been living in Subaneen Ministry of Midsalip since 1983 and only visits home once every three years.
According to local reports Sr Melia was serving at the San Jose Parish Church in Midsalip town in the Zamboanga region when the attack took place.
Local Police Director Sofronio Ecaldre told a local newspaper that the victim was about to close the window of the convent shortly before 9.30pm on Wednesday when she was attacked by an unidentified person.
Mr Ecaldre said the nun told them that the man, who was wearing a mask, tried to cover her mouth and punched her in the face and chest.
She sustained multiple injuries and fell to the ground unconscious.
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.
Sr Brady said that Sr Melia is currently in her nearest city of Ozamiz where facilities are limited and is waiting to be transferred to Manilla where she will require surgery.
The procedure and transfer “is completely normal”, according to Sr Gray.
“This hasn’t really ever happened before and it will take her time to recover,” she said.
However Sr Brady is confident that Sr Melia will 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 investigation is ongoing to identify the person responsible for the attack.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said this morning: "We are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance through our Honorary Consulate in Manila and the Embassy in Singapore which is accredited to the Philippines."