Fr. John Slinger, MAfr from Wirral, Cheshire attacked in Dar es Salaam

On Monday morning, the 30th Oct, at 6a.m. whilst entering the sacristy to prepare for Mass, I was attacked by a deranged man in the sacristy.

Before this, the man had been praying at the grotto in front of the Virgin Mary and his family and wife came because he had not been home all night and was acting strangely. They were Muslims but said he was a Christian. I spoke to him with the family, but in anger he chased us away. I had gone to our office to put on my alb for Mass and then went to the sacristy. He was inside, seated, and holding the thurible. I greeted him and suddenly he ran at me and swung the thurible like a mace on my head. I was momentarily shocked but then had the presence of mind not to fall but retreat.

Other parishioners were around, mainly ladies, and this was a powerful man. There was blood everywhere, even splattered on the wall, and I went back to the house to shower and change before going to the hospital. Then the man went into the church and scattered the vessels for Mass. I heard later his family managed to restrain him and took him away.

The Parish Priest took me to the hospital where they were sympathetic and dressed my wounds immediately. That smarted. I was stitched in 3 places on the scalp. I also had an x-ray and they tell me no bone has been cracked. I have painkillers and other tablets. I must have a hard head and I thank the Lord that I didn't lose consciousness or that there was anything worse. I'm still standing and in possession of my faculties. I hope I continue that way.

The Christian family of the man came to apologise and asked me to forgive him. Of course I do! The Police said they would detain him and send him to hospital for a medical examination. I wonder if that's going to happen. Mental health services in Tanzania are not like in Europe.

I consider myself fortunate - blessed - to be alive.

So, this is the picture. I was never admitted, just treated and amazingly am functioning as normal.

Fr John Slinger when he was in Pemba.

Fr John Slinger when he was in Pemba.