Members of our community, like people around the country, were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of two nuns, both nurse practitioners in rural Mississippi. Sister Paula Merrill, SCN, and Sister Margaret Held, SSSF each felt a call to serve the needs of some of America’s poorest people. They worked in free clinics in Mississippi, and were much beloved by the people they served. When they did not come in for work on Thursday, August 25, 2016, the clinic staff asked the police to check on them. They were found slain in the house they shared in Durant, MS.
We offer prayers for the repose of their souls and for those they leave behind: their religious sisters, their families and friends, and the patients and parishioners to whom they meant so much.
At the same time, we find that these sisters are still evangelizing. News of their violent deaths always describes their religious life, filled with the fruit of joy, kindness, compassion and acts of mercy. Fr. James Martin has called them “martyrs of charity.” One man who knew Sister Paula said she would probably want people to forgive the killer, according to The Associated Press.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sister Paula’s community, made a short video about her work in Mississippi last year. As you watch, please pray for these two wonderful spirits, and for young women to consider following in their footsteps in religious life.
Video from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Vimeo site