Forgive Me Father for I am about to Sin: Florida Priest Stabbed in Confessional, Forgives Attacker

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 29, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Rev. Michael Massaro of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Florida still had forgiveness to dole out after a violent day at his confessional last Saturday, which was when 57-year-old Josephine Gatchell allegedly decided to take a "big knife" (in her words) and stab Rev. Massaro twice in the back.

CNN passed on Reverend Michael Massaro's description of his horrific experience at confessional:

Massaro said he thought he had one last confession to hear at about 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. A woman was waiting for him, apparently wanting to be be the last one in.

"I was in the confessional, putting my coat on, and felt a piercing sensation in my back left side," the priest recalled. "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."

Massaro said his alleged attacker stared at him but never said a word.

"I ran and got to the car and hoped I could make it to the hospital before I passed out. I was worried about becoming unconscious. Thanks be to God that I didn't hurt anyone driving," he said.

Attacker Josephine Gatchell perhaps thought she was the one doing holy work, considering that she told police she believed that Massaro is the Antichrist (Massaro assures the world that he is not). Vero Beach police believe she is a "troubled woman", and Reverend Massaro himself was both pragmatic and forgiving:

"We have to continue to pray to do the church's work. To love, and most of all to forgive," he said. "To be sure she doesn't do this again, she needs proper medical care. No one in their right mind would do this."

That said, Gatchell apparently wasn't really doing any apologizing, as she simply told police when she was located, "You know who I am, and I know why you're here". However, according to a police affidavit she essentially, well, confessed, to the act saying "she remembers going over to Holy Cross (church)....and stabbing Mr. Massaro." Gatchell's state of mind will likely be at issue in any criminal proceedings, but this is actually the second time she has been arrested in connection with an incident at the same church. Allegedly, she had previously broken off "a piece of a religious statue", resisted arrest, and reached for a police officer's weapon (also allegedly motivated by her opinions on Rev. Massaro).

Gatchell is currently being held without bail, and Rev. Massaro indicates he does plan on getting back to the confessional.

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